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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Jasper: Memories of the London fashion label and a Barney Bubbles connection

May 15th, 2017

//But Is It… ART, t-shirt design, Ian Harris for Jasper, 1979//

I’ve dug into collector and graphic artist Ian Harris’s rich archive again and turned up a brace of t-shirts he designed in the late 70s for Jasper, the eponymous London-based fashion label operated by entrepreneur Jasper Hamilton Holmes from showrooms in central London.

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Don’t Knock The Rock: John E. Reed’s eternal image of exuberant Little Richard

Apr 20th, 2017

//London Records promotional image, 1958//

In 1956 the Hollywood photographer John E. Reed took a series of promotional shots of the stars of DJ Alan Freed’s rocksploitation flick Don’t Knock The Rock.

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‘Progressive, provocative, beautiful and belligerent’: 52-page Malcolm McLaren extravaganza in new issue of Man About Town

Apr 30th, 2016
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//Cover, Man About Town SS16. Otto in Buffalo hat and Rigby & Peller bra (prototype for Nostalgia Of Mud, 1982). Photography: Alasdair McLellan. Styling: Olivier Rizzo//

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//Above left: Frankie in Buffalo hat, white Nike socks and my George Cox Diano creepers. Right: Natalie in Malcolm McLaren’s Chico hat (Witches, 1983), Buffalo jacket (Nostalgia Of Mud, 1982) and Bondage Trousers (Seditionaries, 1976). Photography: Alasdair McLellan. Styling: Olivier Rizzo. Hair: Duffy: Make Up: Lynsey Alexander. Man About Town SS16//

On a warm London afternoon last July I enjoyed a meeting with Ben Reardon, editor-in-chief of the biannual Man About Town, the magazine’s senior fashion editor Danny Reed and Young Kim of the Malcolm McLaren Estate.

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The Third Earl Of Harrow: Screaming Lord Sutch at Let It Rock

Dec 10th, 2015

Revised and updated with fresh links: My marathon trawl through the references in You’re Gonna Wake Up One Morning And Know What Side Of The Bed You’ve Been Lying On!

Dec 2nd, 2015

“It didn’t matter what side of the bed you were lying on, as long as you were lying on it. Everybody from (author/actress) Anne Lambton to (Sex Pistols guitarist) Kutie Jones to (socialite and writer) Anthony Haden-Guest – they were all flattered. Just goes to show how everyone loves to have their moment – good, bad or indifferent.”

Malcolm McLaren, The Look, 2006

It’s coming up to five years since I posted my marathon dissection – including extensively researched links to sources and references – of the divisive 1970s punk manifesto t-shirt design You’re Gonna Wake Up One Morning And Know What Side Of The Bed You’ve Been Lying On!

Here is a new version of that post, revised and updated with fresh links.

Enjoy!

Sixty years after Blast, the You’re Gonna Wake Up list t-shirt adopted a similarly truculent tone in an attempt to ring the alarms amid a culture rendered flaccid by the failure of the 60s dream.

You’re Gonna Wake Up – which went on sale in Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s boutique Sex at 430 King’s Road in the autumn of 1974 – was conceived by fellow traveller and soon-to-be manager of The Clash Bernie Rhodes and realised with contributions from McLaren and their friend Gerry Goldstein.

Of course, it is best known for carrying the band name McLaren had recently granted to a bunch of teenagers hanging around the shop: “Kutie Jones and his SEX PISTOLS”.

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‘Blowing up bridges so there is no way back’: Malcolm McLaren, Situationists + Sex Pistols remembered by Fred Vermorel in new exhibition catalogue

Nov 16th, 2015
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//Front and back cover designs//

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//Pages on McLaren including image of the 1977 God Save The Queen muslin top designed with Vivienne Westwood and featuring Jamie Reid’s graphic and lyrics for the Sex Pistols track//

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//Vermorel’s memoir includes images of McLaren’s student work such as this mixed media piece produced while on a fine art course at Goldsmith’s College in 1969//

Considered as an artwork, a two-and-a-half year project, and in its own terms, McLaren’s Sex Pistols’ was as seminal and resonant as Picasso’s Guernica.

Only this was a masterpiece made not of paint and canvas but of headlines and scandal, scams and factoids, rumour and fashion, slogans, fantasies and images and (I almost forgot) songs, all in a headlong scramble to auto-destruction.

For it was equally a Situationist treatise-by-example, the unremitting and obdurate core being McLaren’s grasp of the theory of situations as proposed by the SI.

Indeed, the story of the Pistols is a Situationist textbook of how to create situations from which there is no return. You refuse to negotiate, to compromise, to be co-opted, you exacerbate every crisis and recklessly play loser wins and then you blow up all the bridges so then there is no way back.

We are then forced to invent another future. Or maybe simply relish the mess, “the ecstasy of making things worse”.
From Fred Vermorel’s memoir which appears exclusively in the new exhibition catalogue.

The catalogue for the exhibition Eyes For Blowing Up Bridges is now available.

The lavishly illustrated 100-page book includes a foreword by John Hansard Gallery’s Ros Carter and Stephen Foster, my introduction, an essay by co-curator David Thorp and a specially commissioned memoir of Malcolm McLaren and his connections to post-war radicals by his art-school friend and collaborator Fred Vermorel.

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Going going gone: The No Future Malcolm McLaren art school tour t-shirt sell-out

Nov 10th, 2015
T-shirts stand at CSM

//Students Lorna Ough, Kit Powell, Manon Parry and Kristen Bullivant selling the No Future t-shirts and copies of The Art School & The Culture Shed at Central Saint Martins last week. Photo: Matthew Cornford//

Matthew Cornford, co-designer of the Malcolm McLaren art school tour t-shirt with John Beck, has sent another shot of the shirts being sold at last Friday’s event Be Reasonable Demand The Impossible.

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Eyes For Blowing Up Bridges catalogue published this Friday

Nov 10th, 2015

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The catalogue for exhibition Eyes For Blowing Up Bridges: Joining The Dots From The Situationist International To Malcolm McLaren is published on Friday (November 13).

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Punk London announced at Be Reasonable Demand The Impossible: Vive le Punk! Vive art schools! Vive London!

Nov 8th, 2015
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//Central Saint Martins student poster feature college head Jeremy Till//

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//Discussing the McLaren/Westwood fashion legacy with writers Lou Stoppard and Dean Mayo Davies//

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//Neville Brody’s logo for the 2016 celebration was unveiled for the first time at our event on Friday//

Our event Be Reasonable Demand The Impossible on Friday night was an out-and-out success, attended by hundreds from all walks of life, including students of London’s Central Saint Martins for whom it was primarily organised.

We were honoured that the London Mayor’s Office selected Be Reasonable to unveil Punk London,  the year-long calendar of exhibitions, gigs and events in the capital in 2016.

More details will be forthcoming at the end of the month; the GLA’s ‘cultural partner’ Marcus Davey of Camden venue The Roundhouse gave a few hints and showed for the first time the logo designed by graphic artist Neville Brody.

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//Brighton students sold Beck + Cornford’s No Future t-shirts//

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//Page from McLaren’s mid-70s notebook shown as part of Paul Burgess’ presentation//

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