Paul Gorman is…

“Because it’s so damn good!” Extracts from my exclusive interview with pioneering illustrator/photographer Jim French, who has died aged 84

Jun 18th, 2017

//Jim French. Photo: SHOWStudio//

The American illustrator and photographer Jim French – best known for his pioneering endeavours in the field of homoerotic art – has died at home in Palm Springs at the age of 84.

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Derek Boshier: Clash art guru + original punk rocker!

Jan 27th, 2015
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//Daily Mail – Poem Of Hate, 1977. Ink drawing and newsprint, 55 x 75cm. © Derek Boshier, courtesy Flowers//

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//Drawing for CLASH 2nd Songbook, 1978. Ink on paper, 30.5 x 22cm. © Derek Boshier, courtesy Flowers//

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//Hi Consumers! Don’t Forget Nothing Lasts Forever, 1978. Ink and collage on paper, 46 x 54.9cm. © Derek Boshier, courtesy Flowers//

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//Drawing for CLASH 2nd Songbook, 1978. 33 x 22.5cm. © Derek Boshier, courtesy Flowers//

“Without hesitation, CLASH 2nd Song book is a masterpiece of graphic art”

Guy Brett, writer/curator

Interrogating materials for the Derek Boshier monograph has brought home the meshing of the artist’s sensibilities with punk in the 70s.

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Malcolm McLaren exhibition: Nostalgia Of Mud + Witches + Folkways ethnological recordings from the 1950s

Jul 28th, 2014
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//Front cover, Dances Of The World’s Peoples, Vol 3, Folkways Records, 1958. Design: W. Johnson, printed on paper glued to cardboard sleeve.//

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//Front of four-page song and information sheet utilising W.Johnson’s design, paper, 1958//

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//Invitation card to Paris show of McLaren and Westwood’s Nostalgia Of Mud collection, March 1982. Design: Nick Egan. Courtesy Malcolm McLaren Estate//

The idea is to show in clothes and music that, in the post-industrial age, the roots of our culture lie in primitive societies.
Malcolm McLaren on Nostalgia Of Mud and Duck Rock, 1983

Thanks to Hiroshi Fujiwara for tipping the wink over one of the sources of visual inspiration fed by Malcolm McLaren into the concepts unified by his solo album Duck Rock, the central London clothing store Nostalgia Of Mud and the fashion collections he designed with Vivienne Westwood in 1982-3.

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//Witchdoctor figure from W. Johnson’s design//

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//Figure recast by McLaren and Westwood with Keith Haring adornments on cotton top from Witches collection, 1983. From private collection//

One of the cues for Duck Rock’s investigations into music from all over the world was the series of recordings by enthnological music archivists Ronnie and Stu Lipner released on Folkways Records in the late 50s under the banner Dances Of The World’s Peoples. And McLaren’s appropriation of the naive cover art by W. Johnson – in particular the striking witchdoctor figure – found new form in design collaborations with Westwood, graphics supremo Nick Egan and artist Keith Haring.

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//Nostalgia Of Mud pattern show card, 1982. Courtesy Malcolm McLaren Estate//

McLaren’s brilliance at fusing disparate elements into culture-defining and dazzling artworks is being celebrated next week with the exhibition Let It Rock: The Look Of Music The Sound Of Fashion at the Crystal Hall in Copenhagen’s Bella Center.

The show – which runs from August 3-6 during Copenhagen Fashion Week – will incorporate hundreds of exhibits, many rare and never previously shown to the public, including clothing and objects featured here such as the Witches top, the show cards and original copies of the Dances Of The World’s Peoples LP and catalogue.

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Jim French BC: Before Colt (+ before the SEX shop Naked Cowboys)

May 9th, 2014
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//Johnny Cash by Jim French//

Prior to Jim French launching his homoerotic imprint Colt Studios, the venerable American illustrator and photographer made his bones on Madison Avenue in the 1950s and 60s producing work for such clients as Columbia Records and scarf and handkerchief designer Tammis Keefe.

Now a selection of French’s artworks from this period are going on display in an exhibition at Palm Springs gallery Nat Reed.

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//Frank Sinatra for Columbia Record Club, Jim French//

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//Textile design for Tammis Keefe, Jim French//

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