Guy Peellaert, The Michelangelo of Pop Art

Guy Peellaert, a major European Pop artist, died last week. The Brussels-born artist Guy Peellaert was a painter, illustrator, graphic artist and photographer, whose work has been exhibited around the world. He made his debut as a theatre decorator and as a comic strip artist and was one of the first artists to embrace the Pop Art movement that began in the late 1950s. Peellaert made no distinction between high art and low art. He approached the pop culture and mythology as a true fan. His style was influenced by comics, American Pop Art and psychedelic art. He painted using a very photo-realistic style and collage techniques. In 1974, Elle magazine called him the “the Michelangelo of Pop”.

“Tina Turner” by Guy Peellaert

Peellaert was born in Brussels in 1934 into an aristocratic family. He left home at an early age, and for many years refused to have any contact with his father. As a teenager, he studied fine arts in the Belgian capital and found refuge in the music of Nat King Cole, George Gershwin and Duke Ellington. He also devoured Amercian and British pop culture, film noir and pulp literature. Just as his example, the Britsih Pop artist Peter Blake, Peellaert hoarded and archived music magazines, books and pop memorabilia. He was one of the very first comic artists to process pop-art influences in his stories. His first comic strip, “Les Aventures de Jodelle”, was published in 1966. The psychedelic cartoon character Jodelle was inspired by he French popstar Sylvie Vartan. Peellart’s second comic strip heroine, “Pravda, La Survireuse”, made her debut in 1968 and was a brunette modelled on the chanteuse Françoise Hardy.

“Pravda & Coca-Cola”, limited edition silkprints by Guy Peellaert.

Rolling Stone Mick Jagger, one of the proud owners of Peellaert’s art.

In the late Sixties, Peellaert moved to Paris, where he worked variously in advertising, set design for the casino and the Crazy Horse nightclub, film and television. He also published a couple of experimental books, “Carashi!”, which consisted of redesigned photos, and “Bye, bye, bye Baby, bye, bye’”, which used a hyper-realistic style.
Peellaert quickly became a popular chronicler of rock and roll. He created amazing tableaux featuring rock luminaries in paintings that captured their personae in a way that photos never could. His paintings tapped right into our subconscious fantasies of rock stars’ secret selves & lives and earned him international cult status.

“Jimi Hendrix” by Guy Peellaert

Peellaert’s work became very visible in the 1970s, especially his book of rock star portraits “Rock Dreams”, created together with British rock writer Nik Cohn. With its fantastical and iconic images of the giants of rock and roll, the book served as a record of rock’s golden years. In a series of 125 paintings, Peellaert painted his heroes in situations echoing their mythical status or playing on their most famous lyrics. “Rock Dreams”, created together with British rock writer Nik Cohn. Published in 1974, the book had a huge impact when it was first published and went on to sell more than one million copies worldwide and established Peellaert as a major international artist. Many of the original artworks were bought by Jack Nicholson. John Lennon framed the cover of the book, which depicted him sitting at a lunch-counter with Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger.

“Elvis Presley’s Last Supper” with guests Cliff Richard, Tom Jones and Eddie Cochran, feasting on burgers and drinking Coca-Cola.

“Frank Sinatra” – Peellaert pictured Sinatra as a newspaper cutting. The “Frankie Goes Hollywood” headline later inspired singer Holly Johnson for the name of his band, Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

“The Beatles”, the Fab Four chased by a bobby in the streets of Liverpool.


“Otis Redding” by Guy Peellaert

“Superstar Bob”, Bob Dylan in the back of a limousine.

“The Velvet Underground” by Guy Peellaert

“Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young” by Guy Peellaert

Soon after the success of “Rock Dreams”, Peellaert created the cover of The Rolling Stones album “It’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll”, David Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs”. Many people know these classic album sleeves even if they don’t recognize the name of the artist who painted it.

“It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll”, Album cover art for The Rolling Stones by Guy Peellaert.

“Diamond Dogs” artwork for David Bowie.

Peellaert also designed striking posters for a number of iconic films, including Wenders “Paris, Texas” and “Wings of Desire” and Robert Altman’s Short Cuts. His most famous film poster design is probably the one he did for Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.

In the eighties, Guy Peellaert embarked on an extensive project with the American author Michael Herr, “The Big Room”, a homage to Las Vegas which conceived the city, in Peelleart’s words, as “a big hotel lounge where everybody comes in, out, with their luggage, their problems and their dreams”. It would take 11 years to complete. In 1999, Peellaert and Cohn teamed up again for “20th Century Dreams”, a surrealistic “alternative history” of the 20th century.

“Little Mockstory” – Elvis Presley in police uniform busting through the dormitory door of a pot-smoking Bill Clinton.

“La Bonne Trajectoire”. Genius Albert Eintein shows baseball legend Babe Ruth the perfect swing.

“Caesar’s Palace” – Famous painting of boxer Muhammad Ali, preparing for a title fight.

Guy Peellaert lost his own fight with cancer this week, he died on November 17th, 2008 in Paris aged 74. In 2003, Peellaert told Beaux Arts Magazine: “I’m not bothered about death. Not having any passion while you’re alive, that’s the terrible thing. That’s why “Rock Dreams” still works today. Emotions keep you alive. Rock will always represent the extravagant, the flashy, the fantasy. These pictures are a memento to that dream.”

For a complete overview of Peellaert’s work, exhibitions and bio, you can visit his website.

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Coca-Cola Shiva by John Green

Coca-Cola Shiva painting by John Green, an animation student attending The New England Institute of Art In Massachusetts, USA. He created this artwork for a Coca-Cola art contest in his junior year of high school in 2005, working with oil paint, acrylic paint and colored pencil.

The Enduring Fame of Andy Warhol

Warhol’s influence on society has steadily grown in the two decades since his death in 1987 and has yet not reached its zenith. Warhol’s ideas were “far out” during his lifetime but are coming more and more to resemble life as we know it. Over the course of 30 years, more and more people have understood that Warhol’s
art opened up opened up a territory as large as the world itself: a large and fascinating universe including Hollywood stars, Coca-Cola bottles, underground movies and music, mysteries and terrors, humor and wit.

Tom Armstrong, the first director of Pittsburgh’s Warhol museum, describes the “Pope of Pop” as a key figure in contemporary culture: “More than any other figure of his time, Warhol challenged our way of thinking about art. Andy was a painter, a sculptor, a graphic artist, a filmmaker, a music producer, an author, a publisher. The scope of his creative activity was extraordinary and it touched on the entire range of popular culture”.

In the foreword of the book “Andy Warhol Portraits”, American art historian and curator Robert Rosenblum stated that this was only the beginning of the story: “Warhol quickly emerged as a leader of the Pop Art movement. His work provided an instantly intelligible chronicle of what mattered most to people, from the dead of Marilyn Monroe to the ascendancy of Red China.”
Rosenblum compares Warhol’s art to a March of Time newsreel: “An abbreviated visual anthology of the most conspicuous headlines, mythic creatures, personalities, movie and music stars, tragedies, artworks, even ecological problems of recent decades. Everything and everybody is here – with infinitely more speed and wallop than a complete run of New York Times on microfilm: airplane crashes and volcanic eruptions, electric chairs, President Nixon, and the Thirteen Most Wanted Men, giant pandas, the hammer-and-sickle, transvestites, Santa Claus and Raphael’s Sistine Madonna”.

Warhol’s greatest gift was probably his observational ability. From his ubercool stance as the silent watcher, Warhol took it all in and saw it for how it truly was.
Warhol’s art reflected the contemporary culture of the United States, and therefore of a world culture that was coming more and more under the American influence. He addressed the changes brought about in our society through mass productions and mass communications in a way that was daring and yet instantly accessible.
By creating artworks inspired by consumer goods as Coca-Cola bottles, Heinz boxes or Campbell’s Soup cans, Warhol presented the world with genuine philosophical challenges.

For the first time in ages, painting was addressing the world at large, and the world knew it was being addressed. But there was a second level to the mass media controversy: not what Warhol painted, but how. Some of his first Pop artworks were made by hand and showed evidence of great skill.

In his later works, Warhol’s hand became less evident. To produce his pictures of Marilyn and Elvis, he made silkscreens print of photographs, which he colored with the aid of stencils. This method offended art critics who wanted to see traces of the artist’s personality on the canvas, or proof of his hard work. But that objection seemed to miss the point.

Warhol had adopted the methods of mass production to make images of celebrities who were themselves mass produced. Marilyn Monroe existed not only as a flesh-and-blood person but as millions of pictures in magazines and newspapers, on album covers, movie screens and film posters. She was infinitely reproducible.

Warhol also understood America’s fascination with celebrity. The “celebrity concept” had an incredible impact on American culture and it quickly became the N°1 topic for Warhol and the Pop Art movement. By becoming a true celebrity himself, something that hadn’t been done before by any US artists, Warhol invented a new approach to America’s fascination with fame.
Andy Warhol’s life is a great example of somebody who courted fame and publicity, achieved it, yet never really gave much away about his “real” personality. Just as is the case with Coca-Cola’s secret formula, the public was really fascinated by the high level of secrecy Warhol managed to surround himself with.

Warhol had been obsessed with fame ever since his childhood when he collected autographs from stars, but what fascinated him the most about the subject was the difference between truth and reality in the world of Hollywood. Warhol subscribed to the postmodern concept of truth as a subjective value and adored the tabloids. In his book “The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: From A to B and Back Again”, Warhol talks a lot about fame: “A good reason for being famous is so you can read all the big magazines and know everybody in all the stories.”
Warhol even created his own magazine in 1969, Interview, which he claimed he started so that he and his friends would always be invited to the movie premieres and best parties. And of course, starstruck as he was, Warhol always liked to hang around with the popsingers, actors & actresses or other superstars.

Warhol’s most famous quotes are on the subject of fame and the fifteen minutes he felt everyone would get. When he made this statement, it may have sounded like a throwaway soundbite but fact is that in today’s world of cross-genre multi-media, obsessive celebrity madness, reality TV with it’s non-stop “new star” bombardments, Warhol’s philosophy has never been so closely felt.

Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame run on …

Alvin Richard, A Celebration of Realism

Alvin Richard is a self-taught classical-modern painter, with the hand & the eye of an old master. His exceptional “Realist” paintings are the product of natural artistic talent and heartfelt passion.
Living in New Brunswick, Canada, Richard is working full-time as a registered nurse and moonlighting as an artist. He has been painting with acrylics for more than 20 years. Richard’s work includes still lifes, street scenes and figure studies.

Corner Store no. 2

Acrylic polymer emulsion on gessoed hardboard, 6 x 6″
“In July 2007, we spent a getaway week-end in Halifax, NS. Early that Sunday morning, I left the hotel for a run around Point Pleasant Park when I passed in front of this corner store at the other end of Barrington Street that was appropriately name Olympic Confectionery. It still surprises me that these type of corner store facade still exist today. Hopefully when the time has come, these will be restored instead of replaced.”

Pop Tent

Acrylic polymer emulsion on gessoed MDF, 18 x 18″
“One thing that wakes you up in the morning when you are camping, is the bright sun. On one of those morning, I realized that the inside of a tent might be an unusual setting for a still life. Fast forward…. Jean-Luc, our then 11 year old son and I, had done some backyard camping and the tent was still up on the lawn, when I did this study.
My fascination with this subject is how the light filters through these bright colored drinks and become illuminated, almost as if they have their own power source.”

Empties

Acrylic polymer emulsion on gessoed hardboard, 6 x 6″
“The Coca-Cola bottle is one of the most recognized commercial products, both for it’s famous logo created by the inventor’s bookkeeper, Frank Mason Robinson in 1885, and for it’s equally famous contour bottle of greenish tint glass. I have realized that the empty version is much more suitable to paint. There are areas that sparkles like tiny emeralds in the light.”

Are we there yet?

Acrylic polymer emulsion on gessoed hardboard, 14 x 20″

You can find more about Alvin Richard’s credo of art & life on his personal blog.

The Pop in Nu Pop Culture: A New Art Generation Inspired by Coca-Cola

More than 45 years ago, artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Mel Ramos and Andy Warhol started to use images of the Coca-Cola bottles or cans to create their pop art. The embrace of popular consumer goods such as Coca-Cola by these iconic artists had a great influence on pop culture, broke aesthetic barriers and touched a deep cultural nerve.

Today, a new generation of artists eager to focus on Coca-Cola’s artistic aura. Using centuries-old techniques as drawing and painting or state-of-the-art Photoshop or Illustrator skills (and sometimes a mix of old & new), they transform Coke’s iconic visual elements into original and captivating works of art.

“Coca-Colored” (detail) by Kofi Ansah aka De Godson (Italy/UK)

Kofi is a 19 year old artist with a goal and determination. He is originally from Ghana but has spent most of his life in Europe. His main residence is in Milan, but currently Kofi is studying 3D Animation at Ravensbourne College of Design & Communication, London. Kofi is also the webmaster and driving force of DigitalFlow, a dedicated site for young graphic talent.
http://degodson.com/

“Coca-Cola” illustration by Issam 991, Morocco

“Koi Cola” by Orticanoodles, Italy

Orticanoodles is a street artist from Milan, famous for his stencil art. Orticanoodles is making a name for himself since 2005, filling the city with his spray & brush images. The koi carps quickly became his signature design, being so colourful and suitable for different pictorial treatments.
http://www.orticanoodles.com/

“Diet Coca-Cola” by TrashCandy, Israel

“Coca-Cola Can” by MKitos, Portugal

“Coca-Cola Cup” by Kasia H4waiian, Poland

“Coca-Cola Can” by Thomas Pwgy, Romania

“Invisible Lines” by Hannouska (Hannah Maité), France

“This is a painting İ made to illustrate the invisible lines between the body and it’s environment. So as you can see, there are differents objects that appear thanks to the lines. Everything is connected to each other. Do you see the fox?”

“Feel the Love” by Go Green, Canada

“Coke, Cake & Cream” by Aya Takagi, UK
Sweet, sour, yummy and melting sensation expressed through delicious syrupy and rich, fresh and fruity colours in dynamic shapes and images. Screenprint with aquascreen ink on paper.

Aya Takagi was born in Tokyo in 1984. She graduated from University of Canterbury, School of Fine Arts with BFA Printmaking in 2006. She is continuing her study in fine art at University of Canterbury in the BFA Honors Programme this year. She uses silkscreen as her main printing method, since her interest in printmaking was influenced by Pop Artists such as Andy Warhol and Robert Rauschenberg.

“Cherry Coke” by Schimpansen

Coca-Cola Halloween – Trick or Treat?

Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. 2,000 years ago, Celts believed that on the night before their new year (November 1), the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred and the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. During the Samhain celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins.

In Ireland, where Halloween originated, bonfires are lit as they were in the days of the Celts, and all over the country, children get dressed up in costumes and spend the evening “trick-or-treating” in their neighborhoods. After trick-or-treating, most people attend parties with neighbors and friends. At the parties, many games are played, including “snap-apple,” a game in which an apple on a string is tied to a doorframe or tree and players attempt to bite the hanging apple.

Today, Halloween, is still celebrated today in countries around the globe. In Mexico, Latin America, and Spain, All Souls’ Day, the third day of the three-day Hallowmas observance, is the most important part of the celebration for many people. In the UK and several other European countries, the US and Canada, Halloween, which was once a frightening and superstitious time of year, is celebrated with fun for all ages.

Serge Mienandi

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT

ARTIST PORTRAIT
Serge Mienandi was born in 1967 in Brazzaville, Congo. He studied art in the famous Poto-Poto School of Painting in his hometown.
Since its establishment in 1951, this school has been a vital location for the creation, exhibition and sale of African paintings. The school has often been described by critics as historically important and very significant in terms of longevity and widespread influence. The idea of the Poto-Poto School is to save the essential spirit of African art and adapt it to modern life. Inspiration comes from local legends and traditions mixed with today’s reality. Mienandi’s artworks depict village and market scenes of drumming, hunting, dancing and masquerade performances. But he brings also modern subjects as urban culture, cinema, cars and fashion to life. Since 2002, Mienandi lives and works in Dakar, Senegal.

For ‘The Coke Side of Life’ Remix project, Mienandi created 4 paintings in the traditional Poto-Poto style. Here you can see the original artworks.

And this is the final “Coke Side of Life” poster…