This Is (the Other Side of) John Wallowitch–A Rare Warhol Cover.

It has been my ambition to collect all record covers with Andy Warhol‘s art. Most of the seventies and eighties covers are relatively easy to find and shouldn’t cost the earth (an exception is Ultra Violet‘s eponymous LP from 1973), but the earlier ones, particularly the fifties covers have become increasingly expensive. And the original “Velvet Underground & Nico” (1967) along with many of it’s reissues are becoming increasingly expensive.

I have long searched for decent copies of Moondog‘s “The Story of Moondog“. While copies of the Moondog album do pop up relatively frequently on Ebay, most are in pretty poor condition with severely discoloured covers, but I had the great good fortune to find a near mint copy on Discogs which I bought as a Christmas present to myself.

The other major hole in my collection was John Wallowitch‘s second album for Serenus Records called “This Is (The Other Side of) John Wallowitch“. This album doesn’t come up for sale very often and bidding goes crazy on good copies. A reasonable copy popped up on Ebay in late January and despite having depleted my funds the previous month for the Moondog album, I managed to win it with a not too outrageous bid.

As can be seen, Wallowitch chose as the rear cover picture to reuse the “photo booth” photos taken by Warhol that were on the front cover of his previous Serenus Records release “This Is John Wallowitch“. It’s sort of ironic that the “Man of a Thousand Faces”, as stated on the front cover, is portrayed on the rear from the chin downwards, so one cannot see any of the thousand faces (actually, there are only 56 photos, or parts of photos on the cover, not thousands).

So now there are two of Warhol’s original covers and one bootleg that I need to complete my collection of Warhol’s record covers. These are the pink version of Prokofiev’s “Alexander Nevsky, Cantata Op 78” and the unobtainable “Night Beat” promotional box set that Guy Minnebach wrote about in his Andy Earhole blog (https://warholcoverart.com/2017/03/25/night-beat-rarest-of-the-rare/). Though I do have the facsimile box of the latter.
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The remaining bootleg I am still looking for is the limited edition of Keith Richards‘ “Unknown Dreams” (Outsider Bird Records, OBR 93009).

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Keith Richards’ bootleg “Unknown Dreams” with Warhol’s car drawing cover.

Will my collection ever be “complete”?

 

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Art Record Covers – a new book.

As you all know by now, record cover art has become highly collectible. The long player, invented by Columbia Records in 1948 allowed graphic artists a 31 x 31 cm canvas on which to apply their art.The arrival of the compact disc in 1982 was predicted to banish the LP forever and, in the mid 1990s many artists had abandoned the format. However, the vinyl LP didn’t die; it faded away for a time, but has made a dramatic recovery in the last few years and artists are once more releasing albums on vinyl. And this has made designers and artists return to the medium and produce many great works of cover art.

Some record covers by famous artists now change hands for extraordinary sums. Nowadays, collectors will only pay top buck for a record cover if it is in pristine condition and preferably for an original pressing. One can only congratulate those who bought some of the rarer records when they were first released as the cover art has proved a surprising investment.

There have been many exhibitions of record cover art over the past thirty or so years. The first one I heard about (and visited) was produced by Aarhus Kunstmuseum in 1981 (shown there from 5th September until 4th October 1981), which then transferred to Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, where it was shown from 24th October  1981 until 17th January 1982 and later to Bildmuseet in Umeå. I saw both the exhibitions in Stockholm and Umeå (and lent 30 covers to the Umeå exhibition) and I still have the exhibition catalogue and even a poster from the Stockholm exhibition, signed by Andy Warhol!

Many books have been published illustrating “great” record covers, “The 100 (or even 500) best record covers of all time” or just plain record covers. There have been a few good books on the history of record cover art. My favourites are Steven Heller‘s, Alex Steinweiss‘ & Kevin Reagan‘s “Alex Steinweiss Inventor of the Modern Album Cover“, Nick De Ville‘s “Album: Style and Image in Sleeve Design” and Richard Evans‘ “The Art of the Record Cover“. There have been even fewer books devoted to a single designer: Paul Maréchal‘s pioneering “Andy Warhol–The Record Covers 1949-1987. Catalogue Raissonné” from 2008 and updated in 2015 as “Andy Warhol–The Complete Commissioned Record Covers 1949-1987” and, again, the “Alex Steinweiss Inventor of the Modern Album Cover” are wonderful examples. Fewer books focus on the artists behind the record covers.

In January 2017, Taschen published Francesco Spampinato‘s “Art Record Covers” edited by Julius Weidemann. This book with over 400 pages provides an overview of artists who have produced record cover art, ranging from the early days of record cover art with covers by Salvador Dali and Andy Warhol to currently active artists including Banksy, Jeff Koons, Karin “Mamma” Andersson and with in depth interviews with Tauba Auerbach, Shepard Fairey, Kim Gordon, Christian Marclay, Albert Oehlen and Raymond Pettibon. Thereafter the bulk of the book, over 300 pages, is an alphabetical presentation of, I guess, 500 artists with selected illustrations of their work.
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Spampinato must have an enviable collection of record cover art! Many (most?) of the photos are of records from his personal collection. The book is beautifully produced, being almost LP sized (30 x 29.5 cm) and on heavyweight paper. Many of the covers are reproduced almost full size.

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Banksy’s Blur covers.
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Jeff Koons’ “Artpop” cover for Lady Gaga.
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The only two Peter Blake covers.

Do I have any criticisms? The book concentrates on artists not affiliated with record companies, so there are no Reid Miles or Vaughan Oliver or Peter Saville, or even Alex Steinweiss covers. The covers chosen for the book are all art works and there are no photographic covers. there are a couple of artists that I miss: Anton Corbijn has designed loads of covers for U2 and Depeche Mode that aren’t purely photographic. And there is Klaus Voormann who has designed record covers for over fifty years for artists such as The Bee Gees, Manfred Mann and, not least The Beatles‘ “Revolver“. These are really only petty quibbles though. The “Art Record Covers” is a magnificent book and a snip at its recommended price of £49,99. So, go out and buy it! But be warned, it’s heavy so take a cart with you.

 

 

Andy Warhol by Sir Peter Blake. Post Dedicated to Daniel Brant.

As readers of this blog will know, I collect both Andy Warhol‘s and, not by any coincidence, Peter Blake‘s record cover art.. I would list these great Pop Artists as the equals–Warhol as an exponent of American Pop Art and Blake curiously English.

Andy Warhol died on 22nd February 1987, just 30 years ago. Art lovers, it seems, love and hate him in almost in equal measures. However, Warhol‘s art still causes excitement and discussion. Peter Blake‘s art continues to evolve, now in his 85th year.

In 2009 Sir Peter Blake produced a 355 x 355 mm (14 x 14 in) print of Andy Warhol in an edition of 25, complete with diamond dust. A new, larger (510 x 510 mm) edition 0f 75 was produced in 2016.

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Sir Peter Blake’s 2009/2016 print “Andy Warhol”.

This would make a great addition to both my collections! I’m going to start saving up tomorrow.

I dedicate this post to the memory of Daniel Brant of the A and D Gallery, who died on 19th January 2017 and who gave me many insights into Andy Warhol‘s art and gave me the opportunity to meet Sir Peter Blake at the opening of the Gallery’s show Peter Blake‘s “I Love London” in 2010. I suppose it is also an homage to Andy Warhol and Peter Blake, too.

Karin “Mamma” Andersson’s art on record covers.

A couple of years ago (July 2014, to be exact) I posted that I had found a record cover using a painting by internationally renowned painter Karin “Mamma” Andersson. The limited edition (1000 copies) EP by Mattias Alkberg called “Epitafium” was released for Record Store Day 2014. It comes in a poster sleeve with art by Mamma Andersson. It initially proved difficult to find, but now there are copies available on line at reasonable prices. Since then I have found a few more covers that use her art.

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Karin “Mamma” Andersson’s painting as a cover poster for Mattias Alkberg’s “Epitafium” EP.

Not long after I had managed to get hold of the “Epitafium” EP, I found out that Mattias Alkberg has released another limited edition featuring Karin “Mamma” Andersson‘s art on its cover. This time it was a limited edition, blue vinyl, 7-inch EP entitled “Skända flaggan” (which means “insult/deface the flag”).

The “Skända flaggan” EP had two different Mamma Andersson paintings on front and rear covers. Well, I thought I had found all covers featuring her art until I received my copy of the wonderful “Art Record Covers” book by Francesco Spampinato (edited by Julius Wiedemann).

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Art Record Covers by Francesco Spampinato.

In the book, Spampinato pictures the covers of two limited edition 12″ singles by Beck with cover art by Mamma Andersson. These are “Defriended” and “I Won’t Be Long“. Apparently they were released in 2013 and only available through Beck‘s website and sold out completely. A Discogs search showed me that there was even a third Beck 12″ with a different Karin Andersson painting on the cover. This was a double 12″ called “Gimme“. All three 12-inchers were readily available, though I suppose considerably more expensive than originally.
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So now I wonder if there are any more records with Karin”Mamma” Andersson’s art on their covers.

Records by Turner Prize Winner Susan Philipsz.

In my last post I started researching record cover art by winners of the prestigious Turner Prize awarded annually by the Tate Gallery to an artist under the age of 50 for an exhibition. Susan Philipsz won the prize in 2010. When I started writing the previous post, I had no idea that I would have the chance to meet one of the Turner Prize winners so soon.

Philipsz (born 1965 in Glasgow, Scotland) began her artistic career as a sculptor. She was fascinated by sound and moved on to sound installations. in 2001 she recorded an a capella version of David Bowie‘s “Ziggy Stardust” album at Stockholm’s Bonnier konsthall. The recording was released on a limited edition (500 copies) Digipak CD in 2004.

Philipsz had an exhibition at the Gallician Centre of Contemporary Art (CGAC) in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in 2008, called “There Is Nothing Left Here“. There was a book published by the CGAC together with an LP which features sound from the exhibition in a cover showing Philipsz and one of her sisters sitting looking out over a mountain.

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Susan Philipsz’ “There Is Nothing Left Here” 2008 LP.

In 2005, Malmö konsthall allowed Philipsz to use their exhibition space for an installation entitled “Stay With Me“. The hardcover exhibition catalogue also contained a CD of the sound installation.

Susan Philipsz has again been chosen to be Bonnier konsthalls artist in residence for the first part of 2017. This time she presents a four-work exhibition called “Lost in Space“. The main work is a 23 minute film of violinist Leila Akhmetova playing a single note from the opening of Karl-Birger Blomdahl‘s opera “Aniara“. Philipsz deconstructed the music and required Akhmetova to only play each note of C. Philipsz filmed the process with a camera constantly circling Akhmetova catching her concentration on following the score while a computer screen beside indicates how the performance is progressing. Apart from a 24-page catalogue, Philipsz has produced a limited edition picture disc LP (300 copies) in a box set with a 300 page book.

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The picture disc LP and book of Susan Philipsz’ “Lost in Space” installation.

At the opening of the “Lost in Space” exhibition, Susan Philipsz introduced the works in a 45.minute talk during which she explained her methods and showed films of various projects she has been involved in, including her Tate Britain installation of tones produced from wind instruments damaged in various wars from the Battle of Waterloo, The Crimea and WWI. After the talk I had the opportunity to talk with her and get the “Ziggy Stardust” CD and “Stay With Me” book signed.