Paul Gorman is…

Joe Stevens’ best photograph: Tousled Bowie at a moment of transformation

Jan 29th, 2015
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//Just over CSM’s shoulder: David Bowie and a railway guard, Paris, May 3, 1973. Photo (c) Joe Stevens//

“In those minutes, you could see he really was about to become a major pop star.”

In The Guardian today, photographer pal and hero Joe Stevens has picked a favourite image from his six-decade career: a slightly tousled David Bowie and a French railway guard at a Paris station.

According to my copy of Kevin Cann’s definitive Bowie diary Any Day Now this would have been May 3, 1973; Bowie had travelled by train from Japan, on the Trans-Siberian Express through Russia, Poland and Germany in the company of the late NYC legend Leee Black Childers and Bowie’s friend and backing vocalist Geoff MacCormack.

Stevens’ captured Bowie at a moment of transformation; alighting blearily in dress-down mode from the train, the rock star was met by wife Angie and a gaggle of glamorous friends. In a matter of minutes he had changed into the Freddie Buretti-designed outfit seen here and was swept away to a reception and press conference in the Rouge Room of the George V Hotel.

Just in shot – and identifiable by his frizz and shoulder bag strap – is Joe’s NME compadre (and another pal and hero) Charlie Murray.

Read Joe’s reminiscence here.

I am proud to say I edited Kevin Cann’s book Any Day Now: David Bowie The London Years 1947-74. It is a thoroughgoing delight and highly recommended – if you don’t already own it, purchase a copy here.

Charles Shaar Murray wrote a wonderful preface to my music press history In Their Own Write (which he ended with the following note to me: “You bastard. You’ll be hunted down and strangled like a dog for this.”)

Copies of In Their Own Write are available here.

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Magical: House Of Beauty & Culture 34-36 Stamford Road N1 (254 7794)

Jan 22nd, 2015
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//Heroes by Mark Lebon for i-D Bible 1988. Styling by Judy Blame and Christopher Nemeth//

I’m looking forward to participating in ShowStudio’s live broadcast discussion of today’s Louis Vuitton A/W 15 menswear show in Paris.

Vuitton artistic director Kim Jones has been trailing the show on his Instagram feed with tantalising hints as to the direction and content. Jones’ A/W 15 collaborators include Judy Blame, Nellee Hooper and Mark Lebon – all names associated with the late shoemaker John Moore’s magical 80s north-east London art/fashion space The House Of Beauty & Culture.

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Of ties and men: The neckwear connection between Bryan Ferry, Malcolm McLaren and David Parkinson

Jan 17th, 2015

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//Malcolm McLaren, 1973. Photo: David Parkinson. Bryan Ferry, 1976. Photo Richard Wallis//

A couple of years back I showed examples of photography by the late David Parkinson to car-nut graphic design maestro Jules Balme; I knew he would be interested in the incorporation of a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado in a 1973 Let It Rock fashion shoot.

What drew Balmes’ eagle eye was not the car fin detail, but the fact that Malcolm McLaren in the shot below sported a tie of the same distinctive Atomic-style 50s pattern as worn by Bryan Ferry in the video clip for his 1976 solo hit Let’s Stick Together (and subsequently on the sleeve of the compilation of the same name rushed out to capitalise on the single’s success that year).

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//McLaren and models in Let It Rock attire – right are examples of the so-called “Alan Ladd” and “Jazz” suits – photographed in Acre Lane, Brixton for Club International by David Parkinson, summer 1973//

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The post-hippie/glam/space rock mix-up: Alun Anderson’s beguiling photographs from the 1973 Windsor Free Festival

Jan 7th, 2015
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//Photo: Alun Anderson//

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//Photo: Alun Anderson//

“When these photographs were taken, everything about them was everyday and unexceptional. These were the clothes we wore, the Hawkwind festivals that filled our summers, the drugs we took, the love we had, the way we moved. Only looked at from a distance does something extraordinary seem to emerge. Whether it is possible to live in the present with this view of what is around you, I don’t know.”
Alun Anderson, 2015

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Die Kunst ist in Gefahr – Blessed & Blasted is back! Art Is In Danger, 1925

Dec 3rd, 2014
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//George Grosz’s book jacket for of Die Kunst is in Gefahr, published by Malik Verlag, Berlin, 1925//

“Today’s artist, if he does not want to run down and become an antiquated dud, has the choice between technology and class warfare propaganda. In both cases he must give up ‘pure art’.
Either he enrolls as an architect, engineer or advertising artist in the army (unfortunately very feudalistically organized) which develops industrial powers and exploits the world; or as a reporter and critic reflecting the face of our times.”
From Last Round, the conclusion to Art Is In Danger

Today I’m returning to Blessed & Blasted – my occasional series about art manifestos – with Art Is In Danger, issued as a small book in 1925 by George Grosz and John Heartfield’s brother Wieland Hertzfelde.

This choice has been triggered by a charity shop acquisition of the catalogue for the 1979 London exhibition Neue Schachlichkeit And German Realism Of The Twenties, an examination of the so-called “New Objectivity” which arose as a reaction to the establishment of Weimar Germany.

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PiL logo tape, flyers for the Limelight and Generation X, Allen Jones artwork, the 1967 Gear Guide: Excavated ephemera of a London youth

Nov 24th, 2014
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//Copy of PIL’s Metal Box complete with tape printed with Dennis Morris’ logo for the band; DB reckons this may have come from the group’s guitarist Keith Levene//

During a recent visit to his mother’s north London home, NY-based expat DJ, art/publishing player and blogger DB Burkeman took the opportunity to recover some of the ephemera of his youth, including the items you see here.

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//Flyer for evening at the London outpost of Peter Gatien’s 80s club brand featuring Barnsley (now Barnzley), Tim Simenon (of Bomb The Bass) and the Wild Bunch’s Nellee Hooper//

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//Photo of Allen Jones artwork obtained from Burkeman’s first employer//

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The Family Acid: New book of the photography of a psychedelic pioneer, reggae archivist, actor and anthologist

Nov 17th, 2014

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One of my favourite Instagram feeds is The Family Acid, run by Kate Steffens, daughter of reggae archivist, actor, anthologist, psychedelic pioneer and photographer Roger Steffens.

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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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John Hilliard: Not Black And White at Richard Saltoun Gallery

Sep 4th, 2014
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//1, 2, 3, 2004. Giclée Iris print on museum board. 91 x 120cm//

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//Black Depths (1), 1974. Black and white print and Letraset on museum board, 2 parts. 72 x 72cm//

Looking forward to Not Black And White, a retrospective exhibition of work by British conceptual photographic artist John Hilliard which opens tonight at London’s Richard Saltoun Gallery.
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September 13: Joe Stevens at his snarliest

Aug 14th, 2014
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//Sid Vicious, Johnny Rotten (in Seditionaries Elliot tartan suit and Anarchy flag/leather mask t-shirt) and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols relax during a soundcheck before their performance at Randy’s Rodeo, San Atonio, Texas on January 8, 1978. Less than a week later the line-up played its final show together in San Francisco. Photo: Joe Stevens//

Lucky for some. Photographer, raconteur, wit and self-confessed exhibitionist Joe Stevens will be talking about and presenting a selection of his 70s Brit/Punk photos at Sonny’s Tavern in Dover, New Hampshire, on September 13.

“Attendees are encouraged to affect their snarliest behaviour,” says Stevens.

More details here.

This is from the January 8 show at Randy’s:

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