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‘Michelangelo of Pop Art’: Guy Peellaert paints Bowie, Elvis, Velvet Underground, Dylan & Stones
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Guy Peellaert
‘Michelangelo of Pop Art’: Guy Peellaert paints Bowie, Elvis, Velvet Underground, Dylan & Stones

The late Belgian painter Guy Peellaert (1934-2008) was called the “Michelangelo of Pop Art” for his amazing photo-realist style. Famous for his instantly recognizable album covers for David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs and It’s Only Rock and Roll for the Rolling Stones, Peeleart was also noted for his legendary million-selling coffee-table book, Rock Dreams, a collaboration with British rock writer Nik Cohn. Rock Dreams features 125 paintings by Peellaert of rockstars ranging from Frank Sinatra to Lou Reed in (often lurid) fantasy settings. It was something you’d see often in head shops and record stores in the 1970s. Many of the original paintings are owned by Jack Nicholson.
Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young have this unmistakable feeling of déjà vu…

The King in his castle…

It’s only rock and roll…

Rock Dreams is a special favorite book of mine. I’ve had a copy since childhood that I got from the Columbia House Record Club when I joined for a penny. One day in the late 1980s, I came across a huge pile of hardback copies at the Strand Bookstore in NYC for $1 each. I bought the entire stack and gave them out as Christmas presents that year. It’s one of the best art books I’ve ever seen.

The Velvet Underground are beginning to see the light…

You’ll never guess where Frankie Goes to Hollywood got their name from...

Diamond Dogs, 1974

1960s vintage “Jodelle” poster
Less well-known are Peellaert’s sexy 60s posters for Paris strip club The Crazy Horse Saloon and his books The Adventures of Jodelle (one of my most prized possessions, I noticed that Fantagraphics Books republished it earlier this year) and Pravda with its title character based on gorgeous Françoise Hardy. (“Jodelle” was modeled on French pop singer Sylvie Vartan).
Below a super cool “Pravda” animation from 2001 featuring a soundtrack by The Rolling Stones, Missy Elliot and Joy Division.



Even less well-known are the incredible animated opening credits Peellaert did for 1967’s Jeu de Massacre (He also did the poster, too, obviously).

Posted by Richard Metzger
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