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Cosmic Visions: The amazing poster art of the UFO Club, London’s psychedelic dungeon
09.06.2013
01:18 pm

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Art
Music

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ufoposter1
 
The short-lived UFO Club was a small, pioneering psychedelic club in London that operated from December 1966 to October 1967. It was born as a result of the underground newspaper The International Times’ fabulously successful launch party at the Roundhouse on October 14, 1966, where the early Pink Floyd and Soft Machine performed. IT‘s visionary owners Joe Boyd and John “Hoppy” Hopkins opened the UFO Club in a basement at 31 Tottenham Court Road under Gala Berkeley Cinema on December 23, 1966. The club was open every week “10:30 until dawn.” A one-year membership was 15 shillings but “Overseas visitors need not be members” (according to a UFO Club ad for a Procol Harum show). Mick Farren was a doorman.

The roster of artists who played there is mind-blowing: Barrett-era Pink Floyd (the house band), The Move, The Pretty Things, Graham Bond, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Soft Machine, Denny Laine, Fairport Convention, and Jimi Hendrix, Eric Burdon and The New Animals, Dantalion’s Chariot (with Zoot Money and future Police guitarist Andy Summers), The Bonzo Dog Band, The Smoke, Third Ear Band, Jeff Beck, Ten Years After, and (Giant) Sun Trolley.

Movies were shown (Buñuel, Dali, W.C. Fields, Marilyn Monroe, Kenneth Anger), first-generation light shows and film projections (by Mark Boyle and Joan Hills), and vegetarian macrobiotic food was served. LSD was easy to find.

HapsZappa
 
ufofortean
 
ufovariant
 
HapsTomorrow
 
HapsGranny
 
Andy Summers wrote in his autobiography One Train Later:

In the Roundhouse, the UFO, and the Middle Earth Club in London everyone seems to get it, and it’s as if we are all in on the same joke. Our music expresses the release, the dropping of old conventions, the newly found freedom – and to play old-style R&B in these places would be distinctly uncool.

UFO Club owners Joe Boyd and Hopkins were inspired by American music venues’ colorful commissioned concert posters and decided to follow suit. They chose pop artists Michael English and Nigel Waymouth, a.k.a. Hapshash & the Coloured Coat, to design promotional posters for the UFO Club. English had already worked on the first few issues of IT.

The two men met in 1966 when both were involved in creating exterior murals for trendy London clothing shops, English at Hung On You, and Waymouth at his own boutique Granny Takes A Trip, on Kings Road. Granny Takes A Trip, opened by Waymouth and artists John Pearse and Sheila Cohen, was the hippest clothing store, selling antique clothes and original psychedelic designs to hippies, young aristocrats, and rock stars and their consorts (Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Ronnie Wood, Rod Stewart, Andy Summers, The GTO’s Miss Pamela, Marianne Faithfull, and Anita Pallenberg). In 1967 English and Waymouth formed their graphic design partnership, Hapshash and the Coloured Coat (earlier discarded names were Cosmic Colors and Jacob and the Coloured Coat).

Hapshash’s intricate, detailed, sometimes illegible posters were printed by IT offshoot Osiris Visions in the Indica Gallery (owned by Marianne Faithfull’s husband John Dunbar, Peter Asher, and IT editor Barry Miles and heavily invested in by Paul McCartney), located in the basement of the Indica Bookshop. The Creative Review said in 2011 before a Hapshash retrospective at London’s Idea Generation Gallery: “Many of the posters were designed to be largely illegible to those not prepared to stand and read them – thus the artists could get away with including explicit elements, subversive codes and messages.”

The Houston Freeburg Collection website quoted Nigel Waymouth’s description of his collaboration with Michael English:

Michael’s talent lies in his ability to balance an unrivaled attention to detail whilst creating the most fluid designs. I brought to the work a strong imagination bursting with romantic ideas and a facility for figurative drawing. We also had a very strong sense of colour, which was important , given the cost limitations and the strictures of the silk screen process. At a time when the prevailing fashion was for an indiscriminate use of rainbows and any clashing colour combination, we strived for maximum colour effect without sacrificing balance or harmony. To this end we introduced numerous innovations that have since become common practice. Expensive gold and silver inks had not been used much on street posters before we made it a regular feature of our designs. We also pioneered the technique of gradating from one colour to another on a single separation. The effects were startling, bringing an explosive vitality to the fly posters on the London streets. Nothing like it had been seen before or since. Looking at a whole block of some twenty or thirty of a single Hapshash poster was a powerful visual shock. It was not long before people began tearing some of them down in order to decorate their own walls. It was eye candy to match any psychedelic experience. In hindsight we now realize that what we had done was to bridge a gap between Pop Art and tagged graffiti. The posters often contained subversive elements, including sexually explicit graphics, mystical symbols and dissenting messages. We regarded each poster, whatever it was promoting, not only as an aesthetically pleasing design but also as a proactive concept. We got away with it because the posters were so charming to look at and the contents, including the words, required closer attention than people could give them at first glance. Our immediate audience was the younger generation, sympathetic to the spirit of the times but we also wanted to brighten the lives of people going about there everyday business on the gray streets of London.

For eighteen months Hapshash also did similar artwork for album covers (The Incredible String Band), the sleeve for The Who’s single “I Can See For Miles,” the film Luv Me, promotional posters for Tomorrow, Soft Machine, Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, Traffic, Granny Takes a Trip, the 1968 International Pop Festival in Rome, the Middle Earth Club, the Savile Theatre, and the the 14-Hour Technicolour Dream “free speech benefit” fundraiser at Alexandra Palace on April 29, 1967 to help IT with legal fees. The posters’ screen-prints were often given away to members of the audience at the end of a night (well, very early morning). An illicit cottage industry has grown up around bootlegging these posters and inventing unlikely stories about their origins. There is a good checklist of how to spot fakes here.

ufomichael
 
HapsSoftMachine1
 
More posters + Soft Machine at the UFO Club, June 2, 1967 after the jump…
 

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
Bette Midler is Wonder Woman: Comic book characters painted onto vintage albums
09.06.2013
12:21 pm

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Art
Music

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Wonder Woman LP Painting
 
Artist Robert Jimenez reworked iconic vintage LPs with with Marvel and DC comic book characters. I’m dying over The Divine Miss M cover!

Sadly, each one was selling for around $40 and they’re all sold! Maybe he’ll make more?
 

Batgirl LP Painting
 

Dr. Strange LP Painting
 

LOBO LP Painting
 

Batman Catwoman LP Painting
 
Via Laughing Squid

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Alien’ Facehugger wall clock
09.05.2013
01:39 pm

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Amusing
Art
Movies

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Handmade Facehugger Alien wall clock by designer and artist Chris Edwards aka “Eddie Escher.”

It’s currently on display at the Rapture Gallery in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, but can be purchased too on Etsy for a mere $312.30 + shipping. I think it really looks good against that wallpaper. WANT!

Previously on Dangerous Minds:

Life-size ‘Alien’ LEGO facehugger

Suck on that: ‘Alien’ facehugger bong

Via Laughing Squid

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Happy birthday John Cage!
09.05.2013
11:57 am

Topics:
Art
Dance
Music
Queer
Thinkers

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John Cage, the musician, musical theorist, artist, composer, philosopher, avid mycologist, writer and one of the leading lights of the 20th century avant garde was born on September 5, 1912. Cage’s iconoclastic approach to music—and everything else he did—is neatly summed up in this short comment:

After I had been studying with him for two years, [Austrian composer Arnold] Schoenberg said, “In order to write music, you must have a feeling for harmony.” I explained to him that I had no feeling for harmony. He then said that I would always encounter an obstacle, that it would be as though I came to a wall through which I could not pass. I said, “In that case I will devote my life to beating my head against that wall.”

Superb! I hate to admit it, but I’d rather read John Cage than actually listen to his music. Like most people, the only song of his that I can sing in the shower is “4′33″ although I have a shelf full of his books, books about him and anthologies of his interviews.

I do have a slightly funny John Cage anecdote: Sometime in the mid-1980s, Cage, along with Winona Ryder and several other cultural notables, was photographed for an ad campaign for The GAP. These black and white ads were in magazines and on bus shelters in major cities. New York was just plastered with them at the time (Sadly I can’t find Cage’s ad on Google Images).

Part of the pay, apparently, was a rather large GAP gift certificate and on a day that I happened to be in a GAP store on Seventh Ave and 23rd Street—and had literally just passed his ad on the way into the store—John Cage decided that he was going to spend his. I heard him explaining this to the employees—that he had $1000 to spend—and could they please assist him spending it? They at least seemed to recognize Cage from his GAP ad, if not his actual achievements and the staff was happy to help out the cool old guy in the ad.

Cage didn’t stay long because he seemed to know exactly what he wanted. I recall that he walked out with a winter corduroy coat, a big stack of black “pocket tee” shirts, some denim shirts and some blue jeans. His style of shopping was extremely utilitarian. He left nothing to chance…

Below, the fascinating ‘American Masters’ documentary on John Cage, ‘I Have Nothing to Say and I Am Saying It’:
 

 
Below, a seldom-seen cable access program with Cage with his friend, writer Richard Kostelanetz. The pair discuss James Joyce and more:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘No Prostitution’: The Simpsons instruct Chinese nightclub patrons on the house rules
09.05.2013
08:38 am

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Art

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Simpsons prostitution
 
While Disney and Looney Tunes probably have him beat on sheer numbers, Bart Simpson has to have been bootlegged more elaborately and creatively than any other animated character in history. There’s even a Facebook group called “Bootleg Bart,” that curates knock-off Simpsons merchandise and art. “Safer Sex Bartwas my favorite, until I stumbled across these janky little posters from a Chinese nightclub.

The imitation of Groening’s art is just a superficial design element. It doesn’t seem to matter to the illustrator that the posters are obvious bootlegs, because a legitimate association with The Simpsons as a brand obviously isn’t really the point. Still, I can’t help but enjoy the irony of America’s favorite dysfunctional family used to foster public decency in a Chinese bar. (No fighting? Really?)
 
Simpsons drugs
 
Simpsons fighting
 
Simpsons gambling
 
Via Buried Above Ground

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Mick Jagger to Andy Warhol, 1969: ‘Do what ever you want’
09.04.2013
05:06 pm

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Art
Music

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Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers promo shoot
 
Sticky Fingers: The Stones at the peak of their powers, the catastrophe of Altamont right in their rear-view mirror, “Sister Morphine,” “Wild Horses,” “Brown Sugar,” an attention-getting album cover with a shot of a man’s crotch and an actual zipper—all of that courtesy of Andy Warhol, of course. In its own way Sticky Fingers is as 60s as anything that ever happened, even if it was released in April 1971.

That zipper would bring its own share of headaches—it made the album impossible to stack easily, leading to lots of scratched returns. Oh, and by the way, the album also featured the first-ever use of the Stones’ tongue logo, designed by John Pasche.
 
Sticky Fingers
 
If you want to see a megastar with a relaxed sangfroid that even Kanye West would envy, check out this suave letter to Andy Warhol getting him started on the Sticky Fingers project: “Here’s 2 boxes of material you can use, and the record.” Hilariously, Jagger warns him that extra elements in the cover design may lead to problems down the line, but then emphasizes, “I leave it in your capable hands to do what ever you want” before asking him, in so many words, where the truck should deposit the huge heaping mounds of cash. “A Mr.Al Steckler ... will probably look nervous and say ‘Hurry up’ but take little notice.”

In short, everything any designer would want from a client. World fame, money, creative freedom, and heedless to all consequences.
 
Mick Jagger to Andy Warhol
 
(via Letters of Note)

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Ginormous Vincent Price ring
09.04.2013
04:46 pm

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Art
Design
Fashion

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Just your average (ENORMOUS) sterling silver Vincent Price ring by artist Paul Komoda! Apparently only three of these rings were made. You can get more info about ‘em here

Previously on Dangerous Minds:

Vincent Price: A thrilling selection of his movie trailers

Vincent Price talks Art and Acting: A scintillating interview from 1974

Vincent Price & Peter Cushing: On location filming ‘Madhouse’ in 1974

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Oblique Strategies: The Oracle of Brian Eno
09.03.2013
04:08 pm

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Art
Music

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schmidtundeno
Artist Peter Schmidt and Brian Eno

You can’t swing a dead spirit animal guide in a metaphysical bookstore without hitting stacks and stacks of oracle cards and inspiration cards. Like many things in the last quarter of the twentieth century, such as ambient music, Brian Eno can take partial credit for inventing such cards.

I say partial credit because his famous Oblique Strategies: Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas cards, now available as a free Android and iPhone app or on this website, were predated by Yoko Ono’s instruction cards in the mid-1960’s. Eno and his friend, painter and multimedia artist Peter Schmidt made their Oblique Strategies cards in late 1974. They discovered that they had both been working on similar lists of aphorisms for getting through difficult moments while doing creative work, but from the different paths of music and visual art. They collaborated, combining some of Schmidt’s foundational The Thoughts Behind the Thoughts cards from 1970 and Eno’s own early homemade Oblique Strategies cards.

Eno invented the cards for his own personal use when working under time constraints in a recording studio. They came in handy when working with other artists as a producer, particularly ones who were stressed out in an intimidating studio environment. They are widely respected as one of the tools used by Eno when recording David Bowie’s Berlin trilogy of albums in from 1976 to 1978, Low, Heroes, and Lodger.

Eno told Charles Amirkhanian at KPFA in Berkeley in 1980:

The Oblique Strategies evolved from me being in a number of working situations when the panic of the situation—particularly in studios—tended to make me quickly forget that there were others ways of working and that there were tangential ways of attacking problems that were in many senses more interesting than the direct head-on approach. If you’re in a panic, you tend to take the head-on approach because it seems to be the one that’s going to yield the best results Of course, that often isn’t the case—it’s just the most obvious and—apparently—reliable method. The function of the Oblique Strategies was, initially, to serve as a series of prompts which said, “Don’t forget that you could adopt this attitude,” or “Don’t forget you could adopt that attitude.”

The first Oblique Strategy said “Honour thy error as a hidden intention.” And, in fact, Peter’s first Oblique Strategy—done quite independently and before either of us had become conscious that the other was doing that—was ...I think it was “Was it really a mistake?” which was, of course, much the same kind of message.

The deck’s first edition was privately printed in a limited, numbered and signed edition of 500 in 1974. They fetch over $2000 when they come up for auction now, but it took a decade for that edition to sell out. Software publisher Peter Norton asked Eno for permission to create a new set for him to give away as Christmas presents in 1996.

If you want a physical copy of the new fifth edition, which came out in May, you can buy them for £30.00 (about $47) at Eno’s online shop.

The usefulness of the cards’ brief philosophical shake-ups and kicks in the eye has expanded far beyond the art world. It’s been helpful for anyone needing a fresh perspective in the face of a deadline or under other pressure. Creative blocks can turn into a vicious downward spiral, and the cards are an excellent tool to introduce lateral thinking to break the negative tape loop in one’s head. You knew corporate culture, with its annual retreats and meetings featuring motivational speakers and team-building exercises, would eventually find a use for the Oblique Strategies cards as well. And it has.

Here are ten random card messages:

Discover your formulas and abandon them

What are you really thinking about just now

Use ‘unqualified’ people

Do we need holes?

Think of the radio

The inconsistency principle

Would anybody want it?

Make what’s perfect more human

A very small object - its centre

Listen to the quiet voice

The insights are a bit reminiscent of Zen koans, New Agey affirmations, the I Ching (Schmidt did a series of drawings based on the 64 hexagrams in 1972), and the multitude of inspirational cards available on the market. They aren’t technically oracle cards, since you don’t have to call upon angels, ascended masters, faeries, spirit guides, or other beings of light to use them, but if you believe in a creative muse, that’s exactly what they can be.

Jarvis Cocker discusses the Oblique Strategies cards with Brian Eno in a 2010 BBC Radio 6 interview, below:

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
Public park ‘sound sculpture’ hacked with porno sounds
09.03.2013
01:13 pm

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Amusing
Animals
Art
Sex

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Apparently a sound sculpture in a public park in the Netherlands that’s supposed to play delightful sounds of birds was hacked, and now plays the hot-n-heavy sounds of people doin’ the nasty.

According to the YouTube description, the 2009 art installation by Bill Fontana, is located in Enschede and was recently hacked. Passers-by reactions have varied from this is “funny” to this is “evil.”

The city has no idea who is behind the hack.

Is this a clever fake viral video? I do not know. The sound sculpture (with the bird songs) is real, however.

 
Via reddit

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Get some culture, you bourgeois ingrates! (With some revolutionary Chinese communist ballet, 1971)
09.03.2013
11:54 am

Topics:
Art
Class War
Feminism

Tags:

Red Detachment of Women
 
Efforts to create a new, post-capitalist artistic culture are fraught with peril. First of all, the tendency to dismiss pre-socialist traditions (artistic or otherwise) as “bourgeois” inevitably leads to a backlash. The impulse to preserve the past and retain one’s history will always prevail (science fiction Christmas cards in state atheist Soviet Russia immediately come to mind). Secondly, the artistic genres of “communist” states can sway overwhelmingly nationalistic, often at the expense of the art itself; propaganda can be art, but when you live in a totalitarian state, stuff can get stale real quick (then again, certain American gaffs remind me totalitarianism isn’t a prerequisite for banal propaganda). And then there’s that rare example of artistic achievement that falls victim to both of the aforementioned pitfalls—fails at relinquishing ties to capitalist culture and politically problematic in its nationalism—but still reaches the height of brilliance and beauty.

Enter Maoist ballet. As an avid ballet fan and former dancer, I’m slightly offended at the notion that I must reassure readers, “this is no ordinary ballet,” but it is an exceptional interpretation, and those who might otherwise be averse to ballet can take heart that this the style is uniquely dynamic and athletic. China’s Cultural Revolution dictated that the bourgeois culture of capitalism just be replaced with a new proletarian culture- hence the radical choreography and patriotic imagery. Of course, it’s still recognizable as ballet, and while a few Chinese instruments pepper the score, it’s primarily performed by a European-style orchestra.

Below is my favorite, “The Red Detachment of Women,” one of the so-called “Eight Model Operas,” (which were actually five operas, two ballets, and a symphony) all designed and organized by Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing, intended as the ambitious forefront of China’s new revolutionary culture. Though I tend to watch it in pieces, isolating different acts and numbers for their stand-alone value, the libretto is epic and elaborate. The ballet is actually based on a famous novel that pulled true stories from the all-women Special Company of the 2nd Independent Division of Chinese Red Army, who had over 100 members. When Nixon visited China in 1972 to repair diplomatic relations, this is the ballet they took him to see—there’s no way that wasn’t a backhanded gesture.

In many ways, “The Red Detachment of Women” was a total failure. Even if we ignore the fact that the terrible politics of Communist China were being extolled en pointe, it’s intellectually difficult to argue that anything engineered by Mao’s wife could even be populist. And of course it’s a failure as all cultural revolutions are a failure; art doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and no amount of communist shellac could purge the fingerprints of the Western progenitors of ballet. Still, the beauty and the innovation of the project are undeniable, and while “The Red Detachment of Women” wasn’t the dawn of a proletarian artistic movement, it was most certainly, well… revolutionary.
 

 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
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