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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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SEX Cowboys return to Situationist roots in new T-shirt inspired by one of my posts

Jan 8th, 2014
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//Drift: New t-shirt from Japanese streetwear company Peel + Lift//

My 2011 post unraveling the threads running through the notorious Naked Cowboys punk t-shirt has itself inspired a new shirt.

The Cowboys t-shirt was designed by Malcolm McLaren in 1975 for sale in SEX, the shop he ran with Vivienne Westwood at 430 King’s Road in London’s World’s End.

Popular with punks and worn by members of the Sex Pistols and their coterie, it was initially known as the Saturday Night Dance shirt because of the presence of the dancehall sign in the appropriated homoerotic cowboy illustration by Jim French.

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//Cowboys t-shirt sold at auction in London last year//

The new t-shirt has been produced by Japanese streetwear company Peel + Lift, which reproduces many McLaren and Westwood designs. It is entitled Drift, making overt the presence of 60s radical thinking in McLaren’s artwork: the drift, or the dérive, was a major theme of the Situationist International, which believed individuals should allow themselves to wander urban landscapes and become either repelled or enchanted by what they found (in the manner of the archetypal French urban explorer the flâneur).

Le Retour de la Colonne Durutti

//Panel, p3, Le Retour de la Colonne Durutti, 1966//

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Jim French: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor exhibition + new Colt apparel collection

Nov 21st, 2013

//Jim French Polaroid studies//

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor is an exhibition of Polaroids taken by artist, illustrator and print-maker Jim French which opens tonight at New York’s ClampArt gallery.

These include studies for French’s 1969 Colt Studio print Longhorns Dance, incorporated by Malcolm McLaren in 1975 in his notorious Cowboys t-shirt design, as sold in Sex and Seditionaries at 430 King’s Road and worn by the Sex Pistols and others.

//Longhorns Dance by Colt (Jim French) from Manpower! issue 7, 1974//

//Wearing their Cowboys (clockwise from top left): McLaren 1975, Sid Vicious 1977, Siouxsie 1976, Steve Jones 1975. Photographs: Bob Gruen; Dennis Morris; Ray Stevenson; Mick Rock.//

//From queerclick.com//

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Coming this week: Lucy Harrison’s multi-layered Carnaby Echoes + Nick Knight’s PUNK at Showstudio

Sep 1st, 2013

//Clockwise from top left: Cover, Helen And Desire, 1970; George O'Dowd, photo: Richard Bevan, 2013; Carnaby Street book and Palisades swing tag, 1970 and 1966; front cover, Anarchy In The UK newsprint fanzine, 1976//

I’m involved in a couple of events which open in London this week: artist Lucy Harrison’s multi-layered project Carnaby Echoes in the West End and photographer Nick Knight’s exhibition Punk at his Showstudio space in SW1.

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The Cowboys came from Colt Studio

May 11th, 2011

//Longhorns Dance by Colt (Jim French) from Manpower! issue 7, 1974.//

My theorising over the roots of the Cowboys t-shirt has uncovered the true source of the main image: a 1969 drawing by the artist Jim French reproduced in a 1974 issue of his magazine Manpower!.

French has an international following for his gay-themed photographic + illustrative work, via his Colt Studio image-bank and work as “Rip Colt” and “Luger”.

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