FOLLOW US ON:
GET THE NEWSLETTER
CONTACT US
The Fool: The Dutch artists who worked for the Beatles (and made their own freak folk masterpiece)
06.12.2018
06:32 am
Topics:
Tags:


 

“It appears that some part of Slothrop ran into the AWOL Džabajev one night in the heart of downtown Niederschaumdorf. (Some believe that fragments of Slothrop have grown into consistent personae of their own. If so, there’s no telling which of the Zone’s present-day population are offshoots of his original scattering. There’s supposed to be a last photograph of him on the only record album ever put out by The Fool, an English rock group—seven musicians posed, in the arrogant style of the early Stones, near an old rocket-bomb site, out in the East End, or South of the River. It is spring, and French thyme blossoms in amazing white lacework across the cape of green that now hides and softens the true shape of the old rubble. There is no way to tell which of the faces is Slothrop’s: the only printed credit that might apply to him is “Harmonica, kazoo—a friend.” But knowing his Tarot, we would expect to look among the Humility, among the gray and preterite souls, to look for him adrift in the hostile light of the sky, the darkness of the sea…)”

― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

Although they are hardly household names today—and they should be—the Dutch art collective The Fool created some of the most potent, striking and exotic imagery of the psychedelic era. Their hippie-gypsy clothing was seen on the Beatles and their wives, Cream and other rock stars and their album covers and other creations have today become iconic. They also recorded an incredible, but long-forgotten album—its limited edition vinyl re-release is the occasion of this post—but more on that below.
 

Marijke Koger
 
The Fool, before it was so named, started with just with two members—Marijke Koger the visionary psychedelic artist who was the collective’s leader and Simon (or Seemon) Posthuma—and later Josje Leeger, Koger’s friend from art school. Englishmen Barry Finch and photographer Karl Ferris were also involved.
 

 
Posthuma and Koger met in 1961 and participated in a nascent counterculture boutique in Amsterdam called Trend. Posthuma staged a “happening” in 1965 called Stoned in the Streets featuring an “electronic striptease” from a bodypainted Marijke, future Firesign Theatre member Peter Bergman reading poetry and weirdo medical student Bart Hughes revealing the trepanation hole he’d drilled into his own skull to grossed out hippies. The two were living on Ibiza selling posters and making clothing when they were “discovered” by Ferris. His photos of them and their work caused quite a stir when they were published in England, which was then starting to turn from drab postwar black & white to swinging psychedelic day-glo. The pair relocated to London and began to design clothing and more for bands like Cream and Procol Harum. Cream manager Robert Stigwood had Koger and Posthuma paint Eric Clapton’s Gibson SG—one of the most iconic guitars in history—as well as Jack Bruce’s bass and Ginger Baker’s bass drum head, the stage clothes and posters for Cream’s first US tour. They did album covers for the Move, the Hollies and the Incredible String Band and an illustration for the concert program at Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s Saville Theatre in Covent Garden. Of course it’s not surprising that the Beatles themselves wanted to work with such forward-thinking and creative young people. One day, as Simon told it, John Lennon and Paul McCartney simply turned up at their home:

During John and Paul’s first visit to our house in Bayswater, they saw the ‘Wonderwall,’ a composition consisting of a decorated armoire and a bust, against an arched wall, painted in the style that was up until then new to the world. “I love it, I want to live in it,” John said when he saw the ‘Wonderwall’, and Paul agreed. Afterwards, Marijke laid the tarot cards for Paul. It turned out to be his inspiration for writing “The Fool on the Hill.”

Although you can see Marijke and Simon’s fashions on the Beatles during the “I am the Walrus” sequence in Magical Mystery Tour, it was not until a bit later, when the Beatles asked them to work on the Apple Boutique on Baker Street that they formed, and so named, the Fool artistic collective with the others. It was a big job, with the Fab Four basically charging the Fool to design the exterior of the store (including a controversial mural on the outside of the building that was painted by the duo over the course of a weekend with some art students including Mickey Finn, later the bongo player of T.Rex, assisting them), the interior, and all of the clothing sold there.

Film director Joe Massot was also inspired by the “Wonderwall” cabinet and it became the title of a psychedelic film he created of that name to showcase their striking vision starring Jane Birkin.The Fool, who also appeared in the quirky cult favorite, served as the art directors for the film and it’s clearly as much their vision as it is Massot’s. Indeed it was they who got George Harrison to do the Wonderwall soundtrack.

And speaking of soundtracks, the Fool made their own. Having met Hollie Graham Nash when they did that band’s Evolution album cover, they tapped him to produce their eponymously-titled psychedelic freak folk album that was released by Mercury Records in 1969. Whereas it’s a fascinating document of the era no matter the angle of regard, it also happens to be REALLY AMAZING MUSIC. The first time I heard it, my initial thought was “Oh, it sounds like an Incredible String Band kinda thing” and indeed it does, from the (fairly cack) singing to the use of exotic instrumentation, including tabla, Moroccan stringed instruments and Scottish bagpipes. One song even sounds like an ISB pastiche done by the Residents. But here’s the thing, also like Incredible String Band, you have to give this one quite a few spins before you really “get” it. Had I written this review a few days ago, it wouldn’t be such a “rave” review—because that’s what this is, in case you were wondering, I’m unexpectedly NUTS about this album—but after listening to it a couple more times over the weekend, well, I’ve totally fallen in love with it. I went from a generally positive, but lukewarm appraisal to thinking The Fool sounded like an album I’d known and loved since childhood. Every song on it forced its way into my head where they will now reside forever. Had I written this post last week, let’s just say it still would have gone over my head. At that point the magic of this album had not reached me. But then it did. This is one of those play-it-until-you-get-it things—like ISB, like Frank Zappa, like Pink Floyd even—that is absolutely worth putting the effort into. Even if you are initially turned off at the idea of flower children visual artists dabbling in pop music, get over it. This record is the real deal. I mean look at these people. Look at their artwork. They are authentically psychedelic!!! You can’t fake this!

The Fool has been lovingly packaged and released as a numbered limited edition turquoise vinyl longplayer (with an extra track) by Holland’s mighty Music on Vinyl label. They’ve pressed up just 1000 of them so if this is something that sounds intriguing to you—and I hope that it does—you might want to get on buying one stat before it’s sold out and selling used for $80 on Discogs. A final thought about the album is that Graham Nash did a remarkable job producing it. I realize that he got pretty busy right after this (it came post Hollies, but before CSN had ramped up) but this album is a lost masterpiece in so very many ways. It’s a pity that he didn’t have a parallel career as a producer like Todd Rundgren.

The Fool even made an American tour, but disbanded as a working entity in 1970, leaving Posthuma and Koger, who were married for a time, to continue as a duo, Marijke & Seemon. They relocated to Hollywood where they painted a psychedelic mural on the exterior of the Aquarius Theater on Sunset Boulevard for the 1969 production of Hair. Today, Posthuma is based in Amsterdam—he’s also written his autobiography A Fool such as I - The Adventures of Simon Posthuma, but so far it’s only in a Dutch edition—and Marijke is based near Los Angeles. She still paints guitars and in recent years has been commissioned to do some outdoor murals in Europe. She is open for designing album covers and can be reached at her website. Finch and Leeger married on the day man landed on the moon, had six children (each named for a color) and remained together until her death by stroke in 1991. A store in Amsterdam inspired by their mother’s work was opened by two of their daughters.

Although the Victoria & Albert Museum has some of the Fool’s creations in their permanent collection, there needs to be a full-on Fool museum-level survey. And a coffee table book! SURELY a museum in the Netherlands should be looking into this!?!?! Look at the work below. This art (and history) deserves to be cataloged and respected; and preserved for future generations to enjoy.  (I’m assuming that Karl Ferris took many of the photos below, but I’m not sure which ones.)


Painting John Lennon’s piano
 

Inside the Apple Boutique
 
Much much more after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Richard Metzger
|
06.12.2018
06:32 am
|
‘The Shining,’ ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ and ‘Frankenstein’: Bags for Book Lovers
06.06.2018
11:00 am
Topics:
Tags:

01shin1.jpg
 
“If you go home with somebody,” John Waters once said, “and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ‘em!”

To save the bother of waiting until you get back to someone’s home before realizing they have no booklined shelves here are some neat bags that let any suitable mate, friend, or potential one-night-stand know you’ve got the literary smarts.

Since 2011, Moscow-based designers Max and Lyuba have produced a series of 129 book bags featuring covers from some well-thumbed classics like Alice in Wonderland, The Catcher in the Rye, and even J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. Each bag is handmade and sold via Max and Lyuba’s KrukuStudio boutique on Etsy.
 
02shin2.jpg
 
07master.jpg
 
016catchr.jpg
 
More bags for book lovers, after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
06.06.2018
11:00 am
|
In their own write: Fonts made from the handwriting of David Bowie, Kurt Cobain, John Lennon & more
04.09.2018
10:15 am
Topics:
Tags:

04fontsbowiepic.jpg
 
For some, the first step towards a chosen career is imitation.

Peter Capaldi is a fan of the great horror actor (and big screen Doctor Who) Peter Cushing. Once, when Capaldi was a child, he was fortunate enough to have met Cushing who gave him a signed autographed photo. Capaldi was so enamored by the actor that he spent many hours practicing his signature to look just like his idol’s as it was his ambition to follow in the great man’s footsteps as a thespian. He managed to make Cushing’s signature his own and forty years later Capaldi became the twelfth Doctor Who.

Nicolas Damiens is a French graphic designer with an impressive back catalog of award-winning work for a range of companies. He has won a trophy cabinet full of awards including a gold medal for his project Tokyo No Ads. Most recently, Damiens designed a series of Songwriters Fonts based on original handwritten letters and notes from the likes of Serge Gainsbourg, John Lennon, David Bowie, Kurt Cobain and Leonard Cohen. These fonts are available to download for free for personal use so you won’t have to practice your cursive writing skills for penmanship like one of your favorite pop stars.
 
05fontsbowiewrit.jpg
 
06fontsbowiefont.jpg
 
More Songwriters Fonts, after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
04.09.2018
10:15 am
|
There’s a restroom in Lithuania decorated with tiles featuring a Soviet high rise
03.27.2018
09:53 am
Topics:
Tags:

01sovti.jpg
 
Comrade, fed up with those white capitalist tiles in the restroom of your favorite people’s bar or local workers’ canteen? Then why not tell the capitalist pig owner to change them to more pleasing images of the glorious socialist high rises of former Soviet countries.

This is what you will find in the Galeria Urbana restaurant in Kaunas, Lithuania, where the walls of the comfort station have been decorated with tiles featuring photographic images of Soviet-era high rises or “небоскреб.” The tiles are the work of Lithuanian design studio Gyva Grafika, who wanted to bring the “outside inside” and re-examine the country’s “dark Soviet occupation history” and the “culture that was introduced to [Lithuania] by force.” Many of these Soviet-era high rises are now being demolished or modernized under EU-sponsored renovation projects as Lithuania hopes to move “forward to a better and more optimistic tomorrow” as “a strong north European country.” It certainly provides a talking point over dinner and a distracting way to spend a penny.
 
02sovti.jpg
 
03sovti.jpg
 
More after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
03.27.2018
09:53 am
|
Exquisite pages from the vintage design bible ‘The Inland Printer’
03.14.2018
11:54 am
Topics:
Tags:

01inlpri.jpeg
 
The Inland Printer was a trade magazine that showcased the best printing techniques and technology between 1883 until 2011. It has been described as a designer’s Bible and “the single greatest resource for the study of the American printing industry.”

The magazine kicked-off as a response to the booming Mid-Western printing industry which was supplying an insatiable demand for books, magazines, newspapers, advertisements, and other printed materials—from labels and wrapping paper to business cards and serviettes. The first issue of the Inland Printer was a mere “twenty-four pages, thirteen of copy and eleven of advertisements.” This quickly grew in size month-by-month until the magazine maxed at a hefty 200-pages for one of its editions.

It was popular because it highlighted new techniques, offered a forum for discussion of ideas, and heralded the changes in design from Art Nouveau to Bauhaus and beyond. The magazine featured many of the big name artists and designers of the day like William Henry Bradley and Frank B. Nuderscher. The magazine was also the first American publication to change its cover every month which is now the standard for every periodical. A selection of these earlier covers can be viewed here. Below, a selection of pages from the magazine that feature many fo the cutting edge printing techniques of the day (like intricate and overly elaborate engraving) to use of color and photographic image.
 
02inlpri.jpeg
 
03inlpri.jpeg
 
More design classics, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
03.14.2018
11:54 am
|
‘Addams Family’ fan creates 3,000-piece LEGO Addams’ Mansion
02.23.2018
07:14 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
Addams Family fan and LEGO enthusiast Hugh Scandrett has created a nearly-3,000 piece modular recreation of the creepy/kooky Addams Family mansion which he has submitted to LEGO Ideas. If 10,000 people support his build idea, LEGO will review it to possibly make it an actual set. So far, as of this writing, the project has nearly 3,000 supporters.

Scandrett had previously submitted a larger build of the Addams’ mansion in 2016—in honor of the show’s 50 anniversary—but the original build had 7,000 parts, exceeding the 3,000 piece limit imposed by LEGO Ideas.


Scandrett’s earlier 7,000 piece build.

Details of the new construction:

Three floor Mansion, each floor is a removable segment, like standard LEGO modular construction.
The Mansion measures 23” (57cm) high, 10” (25cm) wide and 15” (38cm) deep.
A full glass greenhouse.
Includes 8 minifigs: Morticia, Gomez, Wednesday, Pugsley, Uncle Fester, Grandmama, Cousin It and Lurch.
The build includes 2,975 original LEGO pieces, no modifications.

You can vote to support Scandrett’s set idea HERE. We give it TWO SNAPS.
 

 

 

 
Much more after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Christopher Bickel
|
02.23.2018
07:14 am
|
Strange Illustrations of Robots, Devils, Fire-Breathing Witches, and Weapons of War from 1420
01.25.2018
10:00 am
Topics:
Tags:

01defontana.jpg
The Devil and all his internal works.
 
There’s an episode of South Park where Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny try out different routines only to find “The Simpson’s Already Did It.” Looking at the illustrations of technological inventions by fifteenth-century Venetian physician, engineer, and alleged “magus,” Johannes de Fontana, (ca. 1395-1455), aka Giovanni Fontana, it’s more than apparent that whatever invention we think is new someone (probably not The Simpsons...) has already imagined it.

In his technological or mechanical treatise, Bellicorum instrumentorum liber cum figuris (ca. 1420), Fontana imagined or rather devised a whole series of machines for use in war, traveling, entertaining children, flying, robots, rocket-powered craft, timepieces, fountains, and even a means of projecting images like a magic lantern. Unlike most other inventors at this time, Fontana showed the workings of his inventions—the pulleys and weights (sand, water) by which his mechanical devices worked. Most inventors illustrated their proposals “in action” as if functioning in real time, therefore, keeping internal mechanisms of cogs and wheels and what-have-yous hidden, thus to ensure they might be paid for developing such contraptions. Fontana presented his work with see-thru interiors, allowing the viewer to witness or rather imagine just exactly how this devil could fly or that vehicle move. This all well-and-good until one realizes many of these wonderful designs are utterly unworkable as they “do not conform to the principles of mechanics.”

Many of the ideas contained in Bellicorum instrumentorum liber cum figuris focus on weapons of war like exploding missiles, mechanical battering rams and alike. However, Fontana did also include a number of designs for children’s toys and several drawings that scorched myths about the supernatural and the occult by explaining how devils and witches were most probably just robotic automata used to terrorize his fellow citizens.

A copy of Johannes de Fontana’s Bellicorum instrumentorum liber cum figuris can be viewed here.
 
02defontana.jpg
A mechanical toy.
 
012defontana.jpg
More toy/entertainment for kids.
 
03defontana.jpg
A robot witch showing how it would move on rails, have wings that flapped and arms that moved, and an ability to blow fire or air.
 
More mechanical illustrations, after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
01.25.2018
10:00 am
|
How they brought ‘The Elephant Man’ back to life

0ephelumppost2.jpg
 
It started with making false noses. Christopher Tucker was studying opera at drama school when he was asked to appear in a production of Rigoletto. He decided to give his character a noticeably larger hooter. He began fashioning different designs and discovered he liked making noses. That was when Tucker gave up Verdi and opera for a career as a makeup artist.

You may know the name, but if you don’t you will certainly know Tucker’s handiwork. He designed Mr. Creosote for Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life—“And finally, a wafer thin mint.” He came up with the designs for the lycanthropes in Neil Jordan’s werewolf fantasy The Company of Wolves. He also worked on Dune and even made an unfeasibly large prosthetic penis for porn star Long Dong Silver. Somewhere in among that lot you’re bound to have seen Tucker’s incredible craftsmanship.

He is best known, however, for his prosthetic makeup designs for David Lynch’s The Elephant Man, in which he recreated the severe deformities of Joseph Merrick, a man whose head was grossly enlarged and his body disfigured by an unknown disease—it is still a matter of debate as to the cause of Merrick’s illness. Because of his deformities, Merrick was exhibited as a freak in Victorian sideshows. The main problem for Tucker was not to make his designs look like “a cheap horror” but as “something approximating but not an exact clone of the ‘Elephant Man’.”

Lynch had originally planned to design the makeup for Merrick himself but the enormity of the task and his inexperience almost left the film without its “Elephant Man.” Eventually, Tucker was called in to rescue the movie and create its unforgettable makeup designs.
 
0ephelumpjh.jpg
Hurt as Joseph Merrick, or rather John Merrick as he is called in the film.
 
The late, great John Hurt was tasked with bringing Merrick to life on the screen. Hurt was one of those rare and subtle actors who brought tremendous sensitivity and humanity to each of his performances. He was one of those actors the press often “rediscovered” every so often—as they did after his performance as Quentin Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant, or when he appeared as the deranged emperor Caligula in I, Claudius, or the broken, drug-addled Max in Midnight Express, or the vulnerability he brought to the doomed Stephen Ward in Michael Caton Jones’s film Scandal. But Hurt never really went away. He was consistently good in all of his roles, so good that the press took his quality of acting for granted, and only commented on his work when he was truly exceptional.
 
04ephelumptuck.jpg
Tucker’s photograph of Hurt as Merrick.
 
It took seven to eight hours in makeup for Hurt to become Merrick. It then took up to two hours to remove the fifteen layers of prosthetics Hurt wore. The designs for the “Elephant Man’s” head and limbs were taken directly from original casts of Merrick’s body kept at the Royal London Hospital. The long, laborious procedure of becoming Merrick led Hurt to quip: “I think they finally managed to make me hate acting.”

The BFI has a fascinating interview with Tucker about his designs for The Elephant Man which you can find here, while below, Tucker and Hurt discuss the process of bringing Merrick to life on the screen.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
01.24.2018
10:39 am
|
Like Tinder for desperate people: Unsettlingly bad Europop record covers
01.23.2018
10:06 am
Topics:
Tags:

01dutchlp.jpg
 
I have a pet theory (I call him Malcolm, he likes having his tummy rubbed) that posits the suggestion that maybe vinyl declined all those years ago because there were so many shit covers around. It is possible. Too many shit covers meant people didn’t want their lack of taste in music to be seen by their cool friends, so sales dropped until downloads arrived when nobody knows what shit you’re listening to on your iPod.

I mean, we all have guilty secrets about music, you know, bands we’re not supposed to like but we always seem to find there’s just that one track that awful band did way back when that always hits the spot when we’re feeling all mushy inside or very, very drunk or just loved up on way too many eccies or even possibly having no fucking taste in music whatsoever. You know the kind of thing. If you don’t, well you haven’t been paying attention.

Having a sneaky little taste for something outré or déclassé or just fucking shit meant, back then at least, having to buy the goddam vinyl (there were no downloads then, kids, see above). This meant you would always have the unfortunate evidence of your guilty little pleasure on display for every fuckwit who browsed through your record collection and never let you live it down.

Which, by long way of a preamble, brings me to this fucking collection of shit covers from the 1970s and 1980s that were (somehow) available in Europe, well, primarily Holland, to be fair. Some of these covers look like the profile pics for would-be serial killers on Tinder. These are obviously the kind of covers made by foolhardy record execs who say things like “Who needs a designer, my son’s gotta camera, he can do it….” And you know what, he did.
 
015dutchlp.jpg
 
06dutchlp.jpg
 
02dutchlp.jpg
 
More tasteless record art, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
01.23.2018
10:06 am
|
Two-Fisted Sentences and Hard-Boiled Covers: Mickey Spillane’s pulp fiction
01.15.2018
12:44 pm
Topics:
Tags:

05aspillaneitjury.jpg
‘I, the Jury’ (1947).
 
Mickey Spillane said he was a writer, not an author. “Authors want their name down in history; I want to keep the smoke coming out of the chimney.” During his lifetime, Spillane sold over 200 million books, most featuring his hard-nosed, two-fisted hero Mike Hammer. These books were loved by the public but loathed by the critics. Spillane didn’t care. He wrote for himself and he knew there were plenty of people who wanted to read his stories.

Spillane was at his peak in the 1950s when he would often have six books in the top ten best-seller list. At a party, Spillane met an East-coast critic who decried the writer for polluting the list. Without missing a beat, Spillane replied, “You’re lucky I didn’t write another four.”

Mike Hammer was originally intended as a comic strip hero called Mike Danger. Spillane had written stories for comic books like Captain America, Batman, and Superman before, working alongside a young Stan Lee, who could work on three different stories on three different typewriters all at the same time.

Spillane was also fast. He wrote his first Mike Hammer novel I, the Jury in nineteen days. He wanted the money to buy a house. I, the Jury set the sex and violence template for the rest of the Hammer series which usually featured a dame in trouble and bad men doing bad things. A total of fourteen Mike Hammer books were published during Spillane’s life. Mike Hammer is a brutal, violent hero who lives by his own austere moral code exacting bloody vengeance on those he thinks deserve it. First, it was killers and G-men, then after the dawn of the “Red Scare,” it was the commies. In his third book, One Lonely Night, Hammer ends up killing around forty reds with a machine-gun. It was originally nearer eighty, but the publishers thought that was a bit too much. Throughout his adventures, Hammer was ably supported by his girlfriend Velma. Critics denounced Mike Hammer as “a sadist” and “a homicidal paranoiac.” Spillane said he didn’t give a hoot for what the critics thought, the only thing he cared about was the royalty check. His writing brought strange fans like Ayn Rand, though he didn’t agree with her politics, and some famous detractors like Ernest Hemingway, who famously denounced Spillane in print. Spillane was nonplussed. He quipped “Hemingway, who?” when asked about the Nobel prize winner’s comments on TV.

And then there were all the movies made from his books, most notably Robert Aldrich’s version of Kiss Me Deadly in 1953, which Spillane wasn’t too keen on—he’d rather people read his book. However, Spillane himself played Hammer in an film adaptation of The Girl Hunters in 1963.

Times changed, Mike Hammer and Mickey Spillane fell out of fashion—though Spillane’s star never really dimmed in Europe. It was as if the words spoken by Hammer in One Lonely Night had come true for Spillane:

Isn’t that the way life is? You fight and struggle to get something and suddenly you’re there at the end and there’s nothing left to fight for any longer.

This year marks the centenary of Spillane’s birth and although he wrote many other equally good novels, including two different series (Tiger Mann and Morgan the Raider), and a whole slate of new Spillanes (finished by friend and writer Max Allan Collins) are due for release this year, it will always be for his tough guy Mike Hammer that Mickey Spillane will always be remembered.
 
03aspillanemygunisquick.jpg
‘My Gun is Quick’ (1950).
 
06aspillanevengeanceismine.jpg
‘Vengeance is Mine’ (1950).
 
More Spillane covers, after the jump…
 

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
|
01.15.2018
12:44 pm
|
Page 1 of 37  1 2 3 >  Last ›