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In bed with Andy: David Bailey’s banned ‘Warhol’ documentary

Among the reasons given for the banning of David Bailey’s documentary on Andy Warhol were: its possibly breach of the Vagrancy Act and a suggested sex act that was not “conducive to road safety.” These were the stated opinions of lawyer and judge Lord Justice Lawton and the sports journalist and broadcaster Ross McWhirter.

McWhirter was one-half of the famous twin brothers Ross and Norris McWhirter who compiled, wrote and edited the Guinness Book of Records. It was McWhirter who initiated the bizarre events that led to Bailey’s film being pulled from broadcast in January 1973, and temporarily banned until March of the same year. McWhirter was responding to the press previews for Bailey’s film that appeared in the Sunday papers on January 14th that described the film as “shocking,” “revolting,” and “offensive,” with the worst scene (erroneously) described by the Daily Mail as showing:

...a fat female artist [who] dyes her breasts and then rolls about on canvas ‘painting’...

This was Brigid Berlin making one of her famous “Tit Prints,” which was cited by Lord Lawton as a possible source of offense.
Director and subject.
David Bailey had spent about a year working on his documentary about Andy Warhol—it was the last of three films Bailey made for Lew Grade’s television company ATV, the other two were profiles of photographer Cecil Beaton and director Luchino Visconti—and he had spent considerable time with the often monosyllabic and elusive artist, and had interviewed many of Warhol’s Factory entourage including Candy Darling, Paul Morrissey, Fred Hughes, Jane Holzer and art dealer Leo Castelli. Bailey had given over directing duties to William Verity, while he spent his time asking questions and getting close to the film’s subject.

When ATV gave a press screening for Bailey’s Warhol, little did they consider that the negative response of the press would lead to the film being banned. When Ross McWhirter read the press previews, he was sufficiently disgusted that he saw an opportunity to strike a blow for the silent majority—for whom he believed himself to be the obvious spokesman. In fact, he was over-reacting to some hearsay about a film he had not seen.
On Monday 15th, McWhirter prepared to take out an injunction against the Independent Broadcasting Authority—the TV watchdog—for allowing Bailey’s film to be screened. On Tuesday January 16th, he issued a writ against the documentary to stop it being broadcast. However, McWhirter’s writ was dismissed during a one-minute High Court hearing. Like all zealots, McWhirter was not one to have the law stop him, and he appealed the High Court’s decision.

McWhirter’s actions gained support from an unlikely quarter: one of the ITV broadcast regions Anglia decided, after is chairman Lord Townshend and two members of the channel’s planning committee had watched the documentary, not to screen the documentary as Bailey’s film was:

...not of sufficient interest or quality.

McWhirter’s appeal was heard at 17:00hours on Tuesday January 16th, the day Warhol was set for broadcast. The Appeal Court consisted of Lord Justice Cairns, Lord Justice Lawton, and was presided over by Lord Denning. Although he had not seen the programme, McWhirter claimed in his writ that the press previews were sufficient to suggest the show would cause considerable offense. Any programme that was considered to be offensive to “good taste and decency” was to be banned under the guidelines of the Television Act of 1964.

Causing offense to the viewing public was not McWhirter’s only concern over Bailey’s film as his writ went on to describe some of its possible dangers:

At one point there is a conversation between a man dressed as a Hell’s Angel and a girl. In that piece, the girl discusses sex with the man and says she would like to have sex with him on the back of a motorcycle doing 60 miles an hour. Apart from anything else, that does not sound as though it is conducive to road safety.

Like McWhirter, none of the Lords had seen Bailey’s film, however this didn’t stop them pontificating about its possible criminal intent. According to the Guardian newspaper, Lord Justice Lawton was deeply concerned over Brigid Berlin’s breast painting:

...the viewers of Britain were to be shown pictures of a fat lady doing something that sounded to him very much like a breach of the Vagrancy act, apart from anything else…

The offending “tit printing” scene.
However, it was the IBA who received the greatest criticism from Lord Denning for their perceived failure to view the documentary before transmission. This, as it later turned out, was a major oversight by Denning and co. as they had failed to ascertain whether anyone from the IBA had actually watched the film—which in fact they had. IBA General Director Brian Young, Head of Programmes Joe Wellman, together with their deputies, had all watched Bailey’s film and suggested cuts and had even insisted on the addition of an introductory voice-over.

Still this did not stop the appeal judges voting 2-1 in favor of an interim injunction that temporarily banned the film from being screened on television—a documentary on craftwork was broadcast instead.

Watch David Bailey’s ‘Warhol’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Star Wars’ stormtrooper helmets customized by Damien Hirst and other top artists

Stormtrooper helmets
“Spot Painted Art Wars Stormtrooper Helmet” by Damien Hirst and “Haitian Witch Doctor” by David Bailey

We’ve all seen our major cities, and probably even some rural areas, dotted with ceramic cows and horses and human hands and the like, all painted in crazy colors—a trend that has about run its course, if you ask me—but here’s a variation even I can get behind. Ben Moore, founder of the UK public art enterprise art below, in collaboration with the original designer of the iconic stormtrooper helmet from Star Wars, Andrew Sinsworth, have asked several of the world’s most renowned contemporary artists to take a stab at putting their personal imprint on the helmet. The project is called, aptly, “Art Wars,” and the helmets were on display at the Saatchi Gallery in London last week and will be showcased “for 4 weeks across billboard space on an entire platform of Regent’s Park Underground station to coincide with Frieze (17-20th October).”

Thankfully, the artists ran with the idea, and a lot of the designs show considerable cheek and whimsy. Among the artists is Mr. Brainwash, who came to public prominence as a result of Banksy’s 2010 movie Exit Through the Gift Shop; his entry appropriates Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup canvases and adds an aerosol spray top.
Mr. Brainwash
My favorite might be Jason Brooks’ homage to the legendary Formula 1 race driver Ayrton Senna (if you haven’t seen the documentary Senna, you really must):
Check out the entire range of helmets at the “Art Wars” website.
Stormtrooper helmets
via designboom

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Hitler Killed the Duck’: New paintings by David Bailey
11:11 am


David Bailey

Celebrated British photographer David Bailey is swapping his camera for a paintbrush. Known since the swinging Sixties for his iconic black and white portraits of The Beatles, Peter Sellers, Michael Caine, Marianne Faithfull, Mick Jagger and London gangsters, the Kray Brothers; and his decades of fashion work, Bailey’s new show of his paintings, his first ever, is titled “Hitler Killed The Duck.”

Bailey was interviewed by Dazed Digital’s Sue-Wen Q:

Can you tell us the story behind the great title, ‘Hitler killed the Duck’?
David Bailey: The Germans bombed the cinema that I went to see Bambi and cartoons in with a V2 rocket in 1944, so I thought Hitler had killed all the Disney characters.

People tend to be drawn to religion during those times, but you’re not religious are you?
David Bailey: Of course not. God’s just a daisy on the sidewalk. There are many good religions; I like Taoism because it’s more a philosophy. The Carthars were interesting. They were Christians who didn’t believe in killing and that nonsense and were wiped out by the Catholics. I’m completely against capital punishment, because you could get it wrong and that’s enough not to do it.

More than half this country will bring it back because they don’t think; they watch football and get drunk every other night. There’s not a chance many times they’ve made a mistake and the state’s part of you so in a way, you become the killer. Similarly, we’re responsible for Blair, because we - I didn’t, but I’m still part of society - voted him in. So we have to live with that arsehole.

Any final words with regards to the exhibition?
David Bailey: Whether you like or not, there’s nothing I can do. There might be people, whose collection or view on the world I dislike, that end up buying something. That would be sad. Imagine if Hitler or Bush or General Mao or Stalin came along and bought one. All the arseholes in history are famous, weird, isn’t it?

You can see a gallery of some of Bailey’s new paintings on Dazed Digital. I’m a big David Bailey fan (a first edition of his 1969 book Goodbye Baby and Amen that wasn’t cheap sits behind me as I type this) but from what I have seen of it, I must say this new work doesn’t do much for me. Bailey claims he was influenced by Francis Bacon, but all I can see is the influence of German weirdo painter Blalla W. Hallmann, who did this same sort of thing much better. Bailey should probably stick to his Rolleiflex.

“Hitler killed the Duck” from October 7th to November 12, 2011 at Scream, 34 Bruton Street, London W1J 6QX

Below, a delightful David Bailey interview from 2010:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment