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June 28 2012

Rolling Stones unveil facelift for legendary lips logo

To mark their 50th anniversary, the band asked artist Shephard Fairey to update rock's most famous piece of branding

The Rolling Stones have unveiled a new logo to mark their 50th anniversary. American artist Shepard Fairey was commissioned for the project, which sees a subtle reworking of the band's classic image of lips, teeth and tongue.

The new logo takes the Stones' original tongue logo, designed by English designer John Pasche, and adds a circular white and red banner. "The Rolling Stones/Fifty Years," it reads, as well as incorporating the number 50 into the Stones' name.

Fairey, best known for his poster of Barack Obama, has become a go-to artist for rock musicians, designing album covers for Tom Petty, Stone Temple Pilots, Smashing Pumpkins and a Led Zeppelin compilation. Earlier this year he was commissioned to create paintings for each of the songs on Neil Young's new album with Crazy Horse, Americana. The artworks are currently on exhibition in Los Angeles, and will accompany Young on a short forthcoming tour.

Next month, the Stones will meet in London to discuss the prospect of a new album and a 50th anniversary tour. In an interview published this week, Keith Richards said the band are considering working with Jack White, who has previously produced albums by Loretta Lynn and Wanda Jackson.


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May 18 2012

Bob Carlos Clarke, husband and father

Bob Carlos Clarke was a famous fashion photographer who killed himself six years ago leaving behind his wife Lindsey and their daughter Scarlett, now 20. But, they tell Britt Collins, they have been determined not to let it 'take them to hell'

Sometimes Lindsey Carlos Clarke was so angry with her late husband that she wanted to burn all his work, change her name and disappear. Instead, she opened a gallery and is consumed by keeping the legacy of his "dark genius" burning. "Bob was the most exciting man I ever met. He was wild, dangerous, sexy and out of control," she says, sitting in her immaculate white living room, with its one violet-painted wall, a perfect backdrop for his striking black-and-white photographs. "When we were young in the 70s, before Bob was famous, we made a romantic pact that we'd kill ourselves when we looked too old in the mirror."

Lindsey was never serious, but on 25 March 2006, her husband of 30 years, the celebrated fashion and glamour photographer Bob Carlos Clarke, walked a mile to Barnes station in south-west London and jumped in front of a train. Aged 55, he left behind Lindsey and their teenage daughter, Scarlett. Three weeks earlier, he had checked into the Priory rehab centre – not for the usual celebrity reasons of drugs, drink or exhaustion, but severe clinical depression.

A prolific but troubled provocateur, the Irish-born Bob Carlos Clarke was known for his pictures of rock stars and erotic, sometimes shocking, images of glamorous women. Often referred to as the British Helmut Newton, he shot Dita von Teese in a corset and stilettos, holding knives; Rachel Weisz in an oil-slick rubber catsuit; a naked and pregnant Yasmin Le Bon. But the most extraordinary images were for Marco Pierre White's White Heat, looking like a rock star in his white-hot kitchens.

"Sometimes I can't come to terms with the fact that he's not coming back," says Lindsey, who is in her late 50s. "One of the things that happens to grieving people is they secretly think they're crazy. I have moments when I don't feel sane. I had a terrible desire to set fire to his whole archive and I think: Oh God, is this ever going to go away? The violence of his death was hard to deal with. When the police appeared that afternoon, I knew it was over. Scarlett rushed to the door and burst into tears before anything was even said. I couldn't allow myself to fall apart because I didn't want her to feel she'd lost both parents." 

She stops and looks away, her eyes misting. "It was terrible for Scarlett. That night, she got into bed with me and started rifling through pictures of Bob and me, and asking incredibly searching questions. I told her, 'You can make a decision, you can either let this terrible thing take you to hell or you can let it empower you.'"

For Scarlett, now 20, the pain of losing her father is still raw and she is struggling to make sense of it. "I don't think you ever get over something like that," she says. "I never had anyone close to me die so I hadn't ever had to deal with that sort of grief. There are times when I feel really low, but it comes and goes. It's not something you can control. I'm dealing with it every day and probably will for ever."

She misses him terribly, but never felt abandoned or betrayed as people often do after a loved one kills themself. "I'm just pissed off that I didn't get to hang out with him as an adult," she says without a hint of anger or bitterness. "We would have had a lot of fun. I grew up with someone who would spend a week setting up a prank just for his own amusement and [who] could also be very cruel, so black humour is a big thing in our family. My last memories of Dad are from going to see him on a Sunday night in the Priory and having dinner together."

She knew her father was a wildly unconventional character but was unaware how fragile and unstable he was.

Her mother – who tried to protect Scarlett – had been quietly enduring his erratic behaviour. "It was a long time before I realised Bob wasn't right," Lindsey admits. "When you're used to dealing with someone who's dysfunctional you become dysfunctional yourself. Months before his death, he had successful shows in London and Madrid, but seemed uninterested, distracted and joyless.

"By September 2005, he had begun to behave oddly. He moved into our basement flat and every morning I'd go down and find the front door open. He would go missing and I'd find him in his van, just sitting. I'd say, 'Hello, darling.' And he'd say, 'I don't know what I'm doing.' He became fearful of everything. The doctors said he was psychotic, but who knows?

"The death of our friend [the photographer] Patrick Lichfield was a further blow. He was crushed and said he envied Patrick. When I went to Patrick's memorial in November 2005, Bob was already in the Priory."

Bob and Lindsey met in London in the summer of 1976, when she was working as a model, and she was drawn to his dark humour and playfulness. "The first shoot we did was the pictures on a motorbike for his book Obsession and we became friends."

They were both married and started a heated and obsessive two-year affair before eventually leaving their partners. For a while during the 1980s, they were a golden couple, with a starry circle of friends, from Marco Pierre White to Keith Richards. Flitting around the world for shoots and shows, there were exotic holidays in Mustique, parties with the Rolling Stones.

"Bob was very entertaining, moody and cruel," she says, describing his constant obsessions with models, infidelities and disappearances. All the while Lindsey looked after Bob's business and their daughter. As she said in an interview three years ago: "I told him, 'You can have your girls in your studio but don't ever bring them back here.' The beach house was supposed to be pure as well, but that didn't last long. He said to me, 'I don't enjoy sex unless it's secret.' 

"I felt depressed and asked him to see a therapist and he said, 'But I like being a shit.' I thought about leaving him, but ultimately I had taken it upon myself to be with somebody who was complicated."

As Bob's career took off, and with a baby, Lindsey hoped her husband would be happier. In 1997, five years after Scarlett was born, the couple were married. "I know Bob loved me, but he had a difficult time giving back because he was so damaged and never came to terms with the big, dark mess of his childhood. He couldn't be there for me because he could hardly be there for himself."

Sometime in the late 90s, her husband grew disillusioned with everything. "Nothing was ever good enough for Bob," says Lindsey. "He wanted to be a legend, but he became depressed about his work [partly because people had begun to use digital photography], with himself. He worried about growing old, losing his looks and not being the in-fashion thing. I'd say, 'Don't be silly, we have a beautiful house, another by the sea, a lovely daughter, a studio, money in the bank.'

"I always thought that people who talked about suicide never did it," she says. "We were on holiday in France with [the fashion editor and stylist] Isabella Blow eight years ago. Scarlett adored Isabella and was riveted by her because she brought these boxes of hats. I said to Scarlett one morning, 'Let's take Isabella a cup of tea.'

"We knocked on the door and Isabella said, 'I think I'm going to kill myself.' I just said, 'Let me know either way because I'm setting the table for lunch.' You get exhausted with people."

Toughest, Lindsey says, is letting go of the guilt. "With any suicide, you feel like it's your fault and could have stopped it. Looking back, I feel sad about how vulnerable Bob was."

Scarlett scarcely remembers much about the Saturday afternoon when the police turned up on their doorstop. She was expecting to visit her father that weekend. "I thought he'd been in an accident but I only had to see Mum's face to realise he was dead. I don't even think I cried. I was in shock. Now, when I think back, I feel sad but at the time I didn't know how to react."

Lindsey says their shared sense of black humour kept them afloat. In some ways, she says, she feels detached, as though these events happened to someone else. "I can relive everything in strange little pieces: the police arriving, the fingerprints, the funeral. It has taken me five years to do the headstone."

Lindsey's terraced house – light, airy and full of glittering objects – is virtually a shrine to Bob, his photographs on the walls and stacks of his books on every surface. "It's been hard letting go – I still haven't."

Lindsey may not have moved on but she is much happier now – last summer she and the professional golfer Andrew Raitt were married.

She shows me a stark black-and-white photograph Scarlett took of her father, when she was only 13, which hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London. "She's multi-talented and has a natural ability to take pictures," says Lindsey.

Scarlett, it seems, has inherited the best of her father.

Bob Carlos Clarke: One-Offs, a retrospective exhibition, is at the Little Black Gallery, 13a Park Walk, London SW10, from 28 May to 30 June thelittleblackgallery.com


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March 31 2012

'Another Marianne Faithfull lives inside my head'

The veteran singer on her new role as art curator, the Rolling Stones, and 'the Fabulous Beast'

You are curating an art exhibition at Tate Liverpool this month, DLA Piper Series: Innocence and Experience. Your connection with that city goes back to childhood?

I was there until I was six, so it was very formative, at least if you believe the Jesuits. I remember a lot of it, particularly my mother taking me to the docks to show me the big American liners; she would say to me: "That way is America." Which set something up for me for sure. I played Liverpool a lot as a performer on tour. And when I was there I would go to the Walker Art Gallery; I remember seeing Millais's wonderful Ophelia there [at an exhibition in 1967].

You put together the show with John Dunbar, your first husband, who ran the Indica gallery in Soho in the 60s…

The person who first showed me how to look at pictures was John, when he was at Cambridge and doing his degree. We went to Rome and Florence together. We spent a lot of afternoons in the Tate and the National back then. And so we had a fabulous time going through the Tate archives for this show.

The idea is that it almost becomes an autobiographical sketch of you?

What I hope people will be seeing is something like the inside of my head.

What will they see there? We have some wonderful William Blakes, Newton sitting on what looks like the moon. Blake was a guiding spirit for me for a long, long time. My father gave me Songs of Innocence and of Experience when I was a child, which gave me the title for one of my albums. I went on living by Blake.

I always liked that fragment of his : "What is the price of experience…?"

Yes, and, "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom." I'm not sure if I believe that any more. Is it true? It might be. He had vision. I am not in any way a visionary like that. I'm more a channel.

The exhibition will also include Richard Hamilton's picture of Mick Jagger and Robert Fraser's 1967 drug bust, Swingeing London. You were there, of course. Does that feel like another life?

It is all very present. I look at the picture every day. I've been so glad Richard gave it to me. It has helped me a lot to see that period as art, rather than just personal trauma. I read a lot of books about those times, and these days they seem to be viewed as a disaster. I don't see it that way at all, though for me personally they were pretty rough.

Did you read Keith Richards's memoir?

I did. And I loved it. It rang true as Keith. Not that I agree with everything in it. Strangely, I am going to New York to do, among other things, a tribute show to the Rolling Stones at Carnegie Hall. With Ronnie Spector and Steve Earle and others. I will sing "Sister Morphine" at the very end.

Do you have any qualms about being in a Stones' tribute show?

Not really. There was a time I resented it because I felt I could have done anything, and just to be perceived as the creation of the Rolling Stones irritated me immensely. But there are worse things to be seen as, I suppose.

Things that seem tragic dramas when you are young seem less so when you look back?

Yes, you have to remember I was a completely insecure, self-centred, highly ambitious little girl.

Which period of your life do you think of as the happiest?

My childhood, and now. Because I have mastery. I am not drinking and not using drugs.

Do you have a religious impulse?

I do have a strong sense of God. It's impossible to explain what I mean when I say that, of course. I have to have a sense of something greater than myself to be able to stay sober. I have been in the programme for23 years but I am not 23 years sober. But I can't feel that it is all down to me, no.

You are a grandmother now?

I am. I'm 65. I have to take a lot more trouble physically. Before I spoke to you I did my 15 minutes on the treadmill. That's something I wouldn't have ever imagined. I do yoga. I do tai chi. I do a lot to keep my body and my spirit together so I can work. In the autumn I take up a position in Linz at the Opera House for three months, doing Brecht's Seven Deadly Sins, with full ballet costumes, everything.

Which of the sins do you feel you have explored most fully?

I've had a go at most, but in this piece Brecht turns them all upside down, so that lust becomes love. Pride becomes pride in your work. Envy is actually the hardest sin to make positive.

You have had more than your share of the male gaze over the years. Do you feel a bit liberated from that now?

I tried to ignore it most of the time. It's a mixed blessing but I do feel a bit liberated, although I make a great effort for my shows. A great effort to be Marianne Faithfull.

She's a creation as much as anything?

It is actually my name. It is me. But it hasn't felt like me for a long time. What has happened in the past 10 years or so, and what has been my goal for as long as I can remember, is to bring me and Marianne Faithfull into some semblance of harmony. It was her doing drugs and drinking, her inside my head, so it has been tough. The Fabulous Beast, that's what I call her.

Is that Fabulous Beast still whispering to you?

Less so. But she is very naughty. And doesn't believe anything of what I tell her is good for us. She just laughs at all that. She is not evil. She is naughty, and I shouldn't listen to her. I just have to be very careful all the time.

DLA Piper Series: Innocence and Experience – curated by Marianne Faithfull is at Tate Liverpool from 21 April to 2 September


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August 23 2011

How one photograph can turn a musician into an icon

From Sinatra to Dylan, the camera has helped to cement the public mythology of some of our greatest artists

From Johnny Cash "flipping the bird" at Jim Marshall's camera during a soundcheck in San Quentin prison to Robert Mapplethorpe's portrait of an androgynous Patti Smith in white shirt and braces on the cover of Horses, and the late Amy Winehouse posing provocatively in bed on her wedding day, photography has often spoken louder than words when it comes to enshrining a performer in the public eye.

Over the past 15 years, Proud Galleries in London have carved out a niche as purveyors of classic music photography prints. To celebrate, Proud Chelsea is showing a greatest hits exhibition entitled 20th Century Icons. The show provides ample illustration of photography's power to help construct, perpetuate – and occasionally puncture – the image of the rock star as demigod.

Three photographs stand out: Terry O'Neill's arresting image of an imperious Frank Sinatra and his bodyguards strolling along a boardwalk in Miami in 1968; Elliott Landy's portrait of a bucolic Bob Dylan at home in Woodstock in 1969; Ethan Russell's picture of Keith Richards posing beside an airport customs sign proclaiming a drug-free America in 1972.

In their separate ways, each photo raises questions about fame: about the presence that certain performers have, even offstage, and their willingness to play up to, or subvert, their own status.

O'Neill's fly-on-the-wall shot of Sinatra looks like a film still, an out-take from a gangster movie or an Oceans Eleven-style caper. In fact, it is a snapshot of Sinatra, his bodyguards and his body double (wearing an identical suit) arriving on the set of a crime film called Lady in Cement, in which Sinatra starred as private investigator Tony Rome.

The photograph's power resides in its ability to capture Sinatra's presence: the Sopranos-style minders, the look of admiration from the seated man on the left, the way the singer – and his double – both stare hard at the camera, neither offended nor surprised by it. (O'Neill had been introduced to Sinatra by Ava Gardner and was granted unprecedented access to the star.) It dramatises the darker side of Sinatra, a performer whose business interests were allegedly mixed up with the mafia for most of his career, and whose shadier connections were constantly monitored by the FBI.

While O'Neill's snatched shot plays with the conflicting versions of Sinatra the star and Sinatra the gangster, Ethan Russell found Keith Richards a willing collaborator in his portrait of the artist as a rock'n'roll outlaw. The photographer travelled with the Rolling Stones for part of their infamously dissolute 1972 tour. Russell was, as he later put it, "watching from the sidelines when I noticed the sign. I called Keith over and took two quick snaps. The customs officer threatened to confiscate the film, so I retired quickly. I knew what I had got."

What he got was one of the first of many shots that shored up Richards's image as a self-styled rebel, a man who not only lived outside the law but flaunted it. Alongside Annie Leibovitz's portrait of an elegantly wasted Richards unconscious in his dressing room, this image was key in the myth-making of Richards – a process the rock star was all too complicit in.

Consider, then, Elliott Landy's downhome portrait of Bob Dylan, which was used for the back cover of Dylan's 1969 Nashville Skyline album. It is the antithesis of the Sinatra and Richards photographs: it presents a grinning, bearded Dylan who has embraced a brief period of blissful domesticity, a man attempting to escape the weight of his own mythology.

Dylan had summoned the affable Landy to his house, the fabled Byrdcliffe residence in the woodlands of upstate New York. Though relatively relaxed, Dylan was uncomfortable being photographed, and Landy had to work hard over a few days to put him at ease. It was Dylan, Landy later wrote, who suggested the angle of the shot – "What about taking one from down there?" – and Dylan who produced the hat. "Do you think I should wear this?" he asked, smiling as he visualised himself in this silly-looking traditional hat.

The end result presented a man who was a world away from the strung-out singer on the cover of Blonde on Blonde (1966) and a more humble, upfront version of the mysterious Dylan on the cover of his previous album John Wesley Harding (1967).

The Nashville Skyline portrait cemented Dylan's new image as a family man in retreat from fame and from his own legend. He looks relaxed and approachable, although the shot was as staged and self-serving in its way as Russell's portrait of the "outlaw" Richards. In a year when America was in the grip of social turbulence and unrest, when Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were both assassinated, and when Richard Nixon first came into office, Dylan repositioned himself as a seemingly unconcerned, low-key, country-style balladeer.

In exploding one myth, Dylan erected another. The Frank Sinatra and Keith Richards portraits may be more directly self-mythologising, but Landy's portrait of Dylan speaks, in its deceptively quiet way, about the same process: the power of a single image to articulate – and condense – the mythology that great artists often construct around themselves in order to survive – or, in Dylan's case, to hide behind for a while so that they can reinvent themselves once more.

Now see this

Signs of a Struggle: Photography in the Wake of Postmodernism at London's V&A is a small retrospective group show that looks at the influence and impact of postmodernism on photography. It includes work by Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince and Jeff Wall, as well as more recent images by Clare Strand and Anne Hardy. A taster for the V&A's imminent blockbuster, Postmodernism: Style and Subversion 1970 – 1990 which opens on 24 September.


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June 16 2010

Give Tate Modern to Keith Richards

Music legends of the 1960s might be welcome in today's pop music, but contemporary art shuns its old masters – why?

The Marxist cultural critic Walter Benjamin says somewhere, I believe, in his famous essay The Work of Art in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction, that people will accept a radicalism in popular art forms that they will never accept from the avant gardes of "high" art. Benjamin was writing in the era of Eisenstein. A lot of cut-ups have made it into the gallery since then. Audiences at Tate Modern seem pretty schooled to expect everything pre-deconstructed in the museum. The most interesting thing now about Benjamin's argument is that it also works the other way around. It is conversely true that the idea of the classics, the greats, the old masters, is universally accepted in pop music when it is nowadays widely spat on in the sphere of contemporary high art.

I've been listening to some 1960s favourites. The Beatles' Norwegian Wood, the Rolling Stones' Ruby Tuesday, a bit of The Incredible String Band. I hasten to add that I was only four when the 60s ended. I wasn't at Altamont or anything. But when I was a teenager, much later, it was obvious that rock music had reached a peak of imagination and brilliance in the 1960s – and it's still obvious. Does anyone dispute that? More crucially, does anyone think it trashes today's music to say so? There is a maturity, a common sense about critics and consumers of popular music that is totally absent from the high arts. No one thinks it demeans Lady Gaga to admire Madonna.

There is a sense of history in the appreciation of pop that completely eludes today's debates about art. It is clear to everyone that golden ages of rock'n'roll have existed in the past and produced enduring classics: it's a historical fact, and to deny the greatness of an old song such as Sweet Jane would be to deny the worth of the art form as such. So why can't fans of contemporary art accept similarly obvious historical facts, such as the enduring freshness and immediacy of the Renaissance and Baroque painters? And the fact that Matisse and Picasso are the Beatles and Stones of modern art?

See where I'm headed? There are classics and there is the new. The new is always worth hearing and worth seeing – you never know when and where the next genius will come from. But you don't help give birth to the new by ignorance of what went before. Rock has a sense of tradition that has been broken in our museums. Keith Richards has a great private library of the blues. He cares for it and catalogues it. He is proud to archive a heritage.

They should have made him the new director of Tate Modern.


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