Paul Gorman is…

Toyah Willcox and Midge Ure worked in Sex… Nostalgia Of Mud sold bondage trousers… Philip Hoare’s review spoiled by as many howlers as contained in the Vivienne Westwood book

Oct 25th, 2014
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//Errors pile up in Philip Hoare’s review of Vivienne Westwood in the Telegraph//

It will be frustrating for publisher Picador and their authors Ian Kelly and Vivienne Westwood that the five-star review of the memoir Vivienne Westwood by novelist Philip Hoare in the Daily Telegraph is rendered unreliable by, pro rata, as many inaccuracies as contained in the book itself.

On the basis that phrases such as “fetishistically brilliant” amount to a thumbs-up, Hoare’s review arrives in the wake the media coverage of my claim against the publisher and the authors over substantial plagiarisation of my book The Look in Vivienne Westwood.

Since I have publicly charged the book with being “sloppy”, this well-placed positive review by a relatively well-known literary figure may be framed in the context of a push to restore credibility to the troubled project (as well as the plagiarisation and a huge amount of factual errors, the book is held to contain at least one serious libel and fails to provide proper credit for a number of photographers).

Hoare – who has post-punk associations, having worked in west London record shop Rough Trade and managed the indie group the Pale Fountains – bravely inserts himself into the piece with personal memories of Westwood’s design business with Malcolm McLaren in the 70s and 80s.

According to Hoare – and these are his additions to the errors already piled high by the 458-page tome – the shop assistants at 430 Kings Road in its incarnation as Sex included not only musician Midge Ure but also actress/performer Toyah Willcox.

Of course neither was employed there. Hoare has simply confused each person’s tangential relationships to the McLaren/Westwood coterie: it is well known that Ure was once approached as a possible singer for the Sex Pistols during their formative stage, while Willcox appeared in Derek Jarman’s punk move 1978 Jubilee (the subject of a salty attack printed onto a t-shirt by Westwood).

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//Midge Ure, kneeling, with his Slik bandmates on the cover of their 1976 LP//

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//Toyah Willcox in 70s TV production The Corn Is Green (from www.toyah.net)//

During the period Hoare is discussing, Ure had already hit the number one spot with Scottish teen-pop band Slik while Willcox was making her acting bones in Birmingham Old Rep. A simple check in one of the reliable published sources – of course I recommend The Look – would have put him right.

Against these howlers, we can attribute to Hoare’s fallacious memory shop manager Jordan’s “Kandinsky make-up” (it was avowedly based on the work of Mondrian and introduced in 1977 during the later Seditionaries phase) and the “scaffolding rails” in Sex (they were made of curved chrome and expertly-turned wooden gym bar racks courtesy of the trained wheelwright Vic Mead) and instead study Hoare’s claims to own a pair of bondage trousers bought at Nostalgia Of Mud, McLaren and Westwood’s store in St Christopher’s Place in London’s West End.

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//Nostalgia Of Mud – opened to promote the clothing in the companion catwalk collection (also known as Buffalo) – did not sell bondage trousers nor any other punk designs//

Bondage trousers were not sold at NoM, which opened in spring 1982. By this time McLaren and Westwood had strongly and publicly rejected these and other design works produced at the height of punk six years earlier.

In fact so vehement was their abandonment of the punk-era garments that Westwood licensed all the designs, include the patterns for the bondage trousers, to King’s Road store Boy, which was knocking them out in inferior copies by the hundred by spring 1982.

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//Hoare cites the plagiarised passage in his review//

Hoare – who is a fan of Kelly’s work and has given glowing reviews to his books previously – compounds the mistakes in his review by quoting one of the plagiarised passages from my book: “Sex,” Westwood tells Kelly,”translated into fashion becomes fetish…the very embodiment of youth’s assumption to mortality.”

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//From McLaren’s intro to The Look, which he supplied to me exclusively in the spring of 2000//

As pointed out here last week, and as my lawyers have communicated to Westwood, Kelly and Picador, this is one of 40 passages in Vivienne Westwood which bear close resemblance to text in my book, in this case from the introduction written by McLaren nearly a decade-and-a-half ago: “Sex translated into fashion becomes fetish, and fetishism is the very embodiment of youth. Youth has to behave irreverently – it has to take drugs because of its fundamental belief in its own immortality.”

Read Hoare’s review here.

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“He has never lost his wonder at the world” David Hockney’s preface to the Derek Boshier monograph

Oct 23rd, 2014
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//David Hockney 22 Times, Derek Boshier, 2014. 31 x 42 inches. Ink on Archer’s paper//

I’m delighted to announce that David Hockney has written the preface to Rethink/Re-Entry, the Derek Boshier monograph I am editing.

In the piece, Hockney points out that they have known each other since 1957, and that Boshier “like me, is an artist, and one who has never lost his wonder at the world”.

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//Derek Boshier and I at the opening of his 2012 exhibition David Bowie + The Clash at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, Sussex//

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Look and Vivienne Westwood: A question of attribution

Oct 15th, 2014
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//Vivienne Westwood quoted on p85 of her new book written with Ian Kelly and published by Picador this month. This is also spoken in Westwood’s accent by the actress Paula Wilcox in the audiobook which has been published here and in the US//

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//Westwood’s former partner Malcolm McLaren said this to me during a 1999 interview. Subsequently I quoted him on page 22 of my book The Look: Adventures In Rock & Pop Fashion, first published in 2001, second edition 2006//

Jenni Murray: You’ve said ‘clothes were politics long before fashion’. What did you mean by that?

Vivienne Westwood: I have no idea.

Jenni Murray: Was it something you said to Ian (Kelly) and now you’ve forgotten?

Vivienne Westwood: No…is that what it says in the book?

Jenni Murray: Yes

Vivienne Westwood: Well then, he might have got a misquote from somewhere.

Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4, October 14, 2014

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I respect Dame Vivienne Westwood’s achievements; she has been a significant figure in shaping our collective visual identity.

As someone who is driven to investigate and interpret visual culture, that is important to me. I dedicated a chapter and sections to Westwood’s contribution to fashion with and without Malcolm McLaren in the 2001 and 2006 editions of The Look: Adventures In Rock & Pop Fashion.

But she is ill-served by the sloppy new book Vivienne Westwood, recently published by Picador and written by actor/author Ian Kelly.

Read the rest of this entry »

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‘The most radical designer of objects and furniture in the latter 20th century and early 21st century”: Jim Walrod on Gaetano Pesce in Bad Day #18

Oct 13th, 2014

pesce1The current issue of arts and culture magazine Bad Day is enlivened by an engaging interview with the eminent designer and architect Gaetano Pesce by one of his most vocal champions, design authority Jim Walrod.

Augmented by Jeremy Liebman’s photographs, the feature makes a strong case for Pesce’s significance. “He’s the most punk rock person I’ve ever met,” writes Walrod of the 74-year-old.

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Issue 18 of Bad Day has sold out but visit the magazine’s excellent website for further elucidation.

Liebman’s website is here; Pesce’s is here.

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Curating: McLaren’s 1987 painting I Will Be So Bad one of the highlights of Art In Pop’s packed vernissage

Oct 11th, 2014

P1150850 10727782_552391041560176_1972300924_n 10691766_1483474925246002_1181559104_nThere was quite a crowd at last night’s vernissage to launch Art In Pop, the exhibition at Magasin – Grenoble’s Centre National d’Art Contemporain.

This features exhibits by  those working at the cross-hatches of popular music and artistic practice, including John Armleder, Alix Lambert, John Miller, Genesis Breyer P. Orridge, Mayo Thompson, Don Van Vliet, Alan Vega and of course Malcolm McLaren.

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One of the high points of curating the room dedicated to McLaren was publicly presenting for the first time his 1987 work I Will Be So Bad, one of a series he entitled the “Punishment Paintings”.

Visitors came from all over France for the preview, and told us they enjoyed the detailing of McLaren’s cross-disciplinary approach and collaborations across design, fashion, film, music and videos.

And I was tickled to receive this “souvenir” from the brilliant team who built the exhibition, lead by Eric Pourcel, featuring Richard acting punk:

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Art In Pop is curated by Magasin’s Yves Aupetitallot with John Armleder, Young Kim of the Malcolm McLaren Estate, John Miller and I,  and runs from Oct 11 to January 4, 2015 at Le Magasin, Site Bouchayer-Viallet, 8 esplanade Andry Farcy, 38028 Grenoble.

Details here.

 

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Photography books: Punk Rockers! by Alain Dister

Oct 9th, 2014
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//Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, Paris, November 1973. (c) Alain Dister//

A photograph of Vivienne Westwood – credited to the fashion designer’s archive in the new Westwood book with Ian Kelly – put me in mind of an image I have in one of my many books in storage.

At first I couldn’t put my finger on the particular tome. Then bingo! Bought eight years ago on publication, the France-only publication Punk Rockers! is a compendium of the photography of the late Alain Dister from the early 70s to the mid-00s.

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//Johnny Thunders, David JoHansen, Sylvain Sylvain, Paris, November 1973. (c) Alain Dister//

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//Left: Westwood and McLaren. Right: Seditionaries frontage 1978. (c) Alain Dister//

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//Book jacket photo of unidentified female punk rocker taken in Seattle, 1996. (c) Alain Dister//

Among the photographs Dister discusses in the brief foreword is one of Westwood with Malcolm McLaren when they journeyed to Paris to witness a gig by the New York Dolls at the Olympia Theatre in November 1973. This is clearly one of a sequence taken by Dister and featured in Westwood’s book.

As Dister writes, McLaren was “habillé en Teddy Boy années 50″. In photographs taken at the French capital’s Belle Epoque brasserie La Coupole – where we were happily ensconced with the Dolls’ confrère Marc Zermati only last year – the American proto-punk group is shown in all their glory, with guitarist Sylvain Sylvain resplendent in a zippered wool/mohair Let It Rock creation.

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//London 1978. (c) Alain Dister//

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//Fans at Sex Pistols reunion concert, Finsbury Park, north London, 1996. (c) Alain Dister//

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//Left: Berlin 1998. Right: Seattle, 1996//

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//Left: Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, 2002. Right: Sheena, Tokyo 2002//

Punk Rockers! is a valuable document; Dister cast his unstinting eye as punk mutated from London and New York in the 70s to blossom in such cities as Berlin in the 80s, Seattle in the 90s and Tokyo in the 00s.

Former Melody Maker journalist Chris Charlesworth provides a fascinating snapshot of the Dolls at their debauched peak in Paris here.

Buy copies of Punk Rockers! here.

Dister died in 2008; here is his website.

Vivienne Westwood by Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly is reviewed here.

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Malcolm McLaren’s 1969 Goldsmith’s paintings go on show for the first time

Oct 7th, 2014
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//Berries – 8 Yellowy Green Female Forms, Malcolm McLaren, 1969. Mixed media,
5 x 4’. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

“I started out in art school as a painter. I studied there for eight years and most of my education was based around the visual arts. I learnt all my politics and understanding of the world through the history of art.”

Malcolm McLaren speaking on British arts documentary series the South Bank Show, 1983

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//I Will Be So Bad, Malcolm McLaren, 1969. Oil on canvas, 15 x 12”. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

Among the exhibits at Let It Rock, the Malcolm McLaren room at this autumn’s group exhibition Art In Pop at Magasin in Grenoble, are never-previously exhibited photographs of the late cultural iconoclast’s paintings taken by his teacher Barry Martin during McLaren’s student days in the 60s.

These are discussed in this extract from the exhibition introduction:

In the summer of 1969, at the end of his first year of the fine art course at London’s Goldsmith’s School Of Art, the 23-year-old student Malcolm Edwards showed 10 or so gestural paintings, mainly oils on canvas with some integrating text statements and others used as the basis for mixed media experimentation incorporating chicken wire, hammered wood planks and, in one case, an inverted paper envelope against depictions of leaf forms.

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//Map Of British Isles With Yellow Star And Hole, Malcolm McLaren, 1969.
Oil on canvas, 7 x 4’. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

During a 90-minute critical review by his teacher Barry Martin, Edwards (soon to revert to his birth-name of McLaren) declared his rejection of the limitations imposed by traditional art forms, in particular painting.

McLaren subsequently destroyed all but one of the works. In a symbolic statement the exception, the largest canvas – the 7ft tall Map Of British Isles With Yellow Star And Hole, into which he had already kicked a sizeable hole – was left to rot in the summer rain in the yard at the back of the college. Eventually it was torn apart and taken away by the dustbin-men.

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//The Intangible Manipulation Of Minds, Malcolm McLaren, 1969. Mixed media, 4’6″ x 4’6”. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

McLaren dedicated his remaining two years at Goldsmith’s to organization of events and film-making, one about his hero, the early British rock’n’roller Billy Fury merged into an unfinished commentary on consumerism centred on the history of London’s main commercial thoroughfare, Oxford Street.

In doing so McLaren was inserting himself into the lineage back to Duchamp which included such figures as the Dutch Situationist Asgar Jorn, who had proclaimed “Painting is dead” in 1958, and in particular Andy Warhol, who explained his sponsorship of The Velvet Underground in 1967 by saying: “Since I don’t really believe in painting anymore we have a chance to combine music and art.”

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//Leaves, Nature And Cuts, Malcolm McLaren, 1969. Mixed media, 4 x 3’. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

McLaren later described his decision to open the boutique Let It Rock in London’s King’s Road on exiting the art school system in 1971 as “jumping into the musical end of painting”; here McLaren blazed the trail dictated by his formidable art education by creating new artworks as fashion pieces out of the juxtaposition of found objects.

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//Words Trapped In Brick Compartments With Prostrate Figures, Malcolm McLaren 1969. Oil on canvas, 5 x 4’. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

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//14 Pink Figures On Moving Sea Of Green, Malcolm McLaren, 1969. Oil on canvas, 12 x 15”. Photo (c) Barry Martin/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

Thanks to Barry Martin for his insights and assistance in putting together the Malcolm McLaren segment of Art In Pop. Martin continues to practice as an artist and sculptor; this is his website.

Art In Pop, which opens on Saturday, is curated by Magasin’s Yves Aupetitallot with John Armleder, Young Kim of the Malcolm McLaren Estate, John Miller and I. The exhibition runs until January 4, 2015 at Le Magasin, Site Bouchayer-Viallet, 8 Esplanade Andry Farcy, 38028 Grenoble.

Details here.

 

 

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I Will Be So Bad: Malcolm McLaren in one of France’s leading contemporary art spaces

Sep 29th, 2014
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//With a couple of vitrines awaiting exhibits, the wall space on the left of this photo has been dedicated to one of McLaren’s so-called “Punishment Paintings” from the 1980s, titled I Will Be So Bad//

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//A wall vitrine constructed between two pillars displays original clothing from each of the six manifestations of the retail outlets McLaren operated with Vivienne Westwood at 430 King’s Road and 5 St Christopher’s Place in London//

As demonstrated by these photographs taken today by Eric Pourcel, head of production at Magasin, France’s Centre National d’Art Contemporain in Grenoble, the Malcolm McLaren room at group show Art In Pop is really coming together ahead of next week’s opening.

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//Next to a recreation of the Let It Rock sign at 430 King’s Road  from 1972 we have positioned this tall box vitrine with five examples of the Let It Rock ties loaned by Adam & The Ants guitarist and songwriter Marco Pirroni//

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//The projection area is being set up to show a selection of films relating to McLaren’s work in fashion and music through the 70s, 80s and 90s//

Art In Pop is curated by Magasin’s Yves Aupetitallot with John Armleder, Young Kim of the Malcolm McLaren Estate, John Miller and I,  and runs from Oct 11 to January 4, 2015 at Le Magasin, Site Bouchayer-Viallet, 8 esplanade Andry Farcy, 38028 Grenoble.

Details here.

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Art In Pop installation underway: Malcolm McLaren lines up with Captain Beefheart, Daniel Johnston et al

Sep 25th, 2014
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//Recreation of facades McLaren commissioned and created for the early 70s iterations of the boutique at 430 King’s Road: Let It Rock (1971-72) and Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die (1972-74)//

The installation of the ambitious new group exhibition Art In Pop is underway at France’s Centre National d’Art Contemporain, the Magasin gallery in Grenoble.

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//Paintings by the late Don Van Vliet being readied for hanging//

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//Giant recreation of Daniel Johnston’s artwork for his 1983 cassette-only release Hi, How Are You//

Malcolm McLaren’s visual works, from student paintings through his experiments in fashion design, boutique environments, music and film to the installations of his final years, will be shown alongside art by such musicians as Don Van Vliet and Daniel Johnston and musical investigations by such artists as John Armleder, Alix Lambert and John Miller.

Art In Pop opens on October 11 and runs until January 4 next year.

Details here.

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Let It Rock: Malcolm McLaren at Art In Pop – work begins on building the show

Sep 19th, 2014
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//Positioning the 430 shop logos in the Malcolm McLaren room at Art In Pop. Photo: Magasin head of production Eric Pourcel//

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‘Black is the most exciting colour’ (Goya). Black when used in different ways appears the most infinite and mysterious, the most spatial and loose.
Malcolm McLaren, essay for course at Croydon Art School, 1967

It’s exciting. Work is underway on building the Art In Pop group exhibition which opens next month at Le Magasin, France’s National Centre for Contemporary Art in Grenoble.

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//McLaren’s first logo at 430 King’s Road was featured on the side of a 12m installation at Let It Rock at CIFF this summer. Foreground image of McLaren in Central Park, spring 1975, by Bob Gruen. Photo: Jean Francois Carly/Malcolm McLaren Estate//

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//The Too Fast To Live shop frontage in this 60 x 40″ blow-up at CIFF//

Featuring artworks by musicians such as Don Van Vliet and Daniel Johnstone as well as musical ventures by artists including John Armleder and John Miller, Art In Pop incorporates the sizeable space dedicated to Let It Rock, the show exploring the work of the late Malcolm McLaren.

This will focus on McLaren’s investigations into the visual arts from the 60s to his death in 2010 along with the engagements with commercial media such as fashion, film and music for which he is best known.

In line with Let It Rock’s manifestation at the Copenhagen International Fashion Fair this summer, the pink-on-black Let It Rock sign will be recreated, this time at the entrance to the Malcolm McLaren room.

For Art In Pop the sign is being matched by a giant reproduction of the shop logo which followed Let It Rock at 430 King’s Road: Too Fast To Live Too Young To Die.

The dominant use of black behind these logos riffs on McLaren’s repeated use of the colour in his work and should make for an impactful introduction to the show, which will feature hundreds of exhibits from throughout the cultural iconoclast’s artistic life.

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//Founded in 1986, Le Magasin – Centre National d’Art Contemporain is housed in an industrial hall built for the 1900 Paris World’s Fair by the workshops of Gustave Eiffel//

Art In Pop – which is curated by Magasin’s Yves Aupetitallot with John Armleder, Young Kim of the Malcolm McLaren Estate, John Miller and I – runs from Oct 11 to January 4, 2015 at Le Magasin, 8 esplanade Andry Farcy, 38028 Grenoble.

More info here.

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