{ feuilleton }

Avatar

• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


 

Tarotism and Fergus Hall

gille.jpg

Gille Lettmann pictured in 1973 flourishing some of Fergus Hall’s Tarot cards. At the time Ms Lettmann was helping run partner Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser’s Kosmische Musik, Pilz and Ohr record labels, and thus oversaw the release of many fine albums—and a few dubious ones—before Kaiser’s empire imploded amid much bad feeling. It’s a fascinating saga, detailed at length here. Gille’s photo stood out for me in a week when I’ve been working on some new Tarot designs (about which more later) whilst listening to the latest Deutsche Elektronische Musik compilation from Soul Jazz Records which includes among its tracks a couple of Kosmische and Pilz recordings. Gille’s Tarot cards will have been a result of Kaiser’s most ambitious project, a double-disc concept album entitled Tarot (1973), and credited to Swiss artist Walter Wegmüller whose narration is backed by Ash Ra Tempel and members of Wallenstein. The album came in a lavish metallic silver box with a sheet of cut-out-and-keep Tarot trumps of Wegmüller’s own design, not the Fergus Hall cards Gille is holding. Wegmüller’s Major Arcana was expanded into a deck he calls the Gipsy Tarot. (I have the later CD box which included a complete deck of the Tarot cards.)

hall1.jpg

The Tarot of the Witches by Fergus Hall.

All of which gives me the opportunity to draw attention to Fergus Hall, an idiosyncratic Scottish artist who achieved worldwide prominence in 1973 when his Tarot designs were used on the cards seen in the James Bond film Live and Let Die. A complete deck called The Tarot of the Witches was later published as a spin-off from the film. I like his naive painting style which seemed a surprising choice for a blustering Bond movie; the production people could easily have used the Waite deck or something which suited the film’s vague Voodoo theme.

hall2.jpg

hall3.jpg

Robert Fripp liked Fergus Hall’s paintings enough to buy some of them. Two of these can be seen on the sleeve of the vinyl-only compilation A Young Person’s Guide to King Crimson (1975), while a third appeared a decade later on a King Crimson tape compilation. Despite this attention the artist’s only other major work is a book for children, Groundsel (1982), which features many more of his strange paintings. The compilations and the children’s book are all long out of print but decks of the Tarot of the Witches are still being published. As for Hall himself, his Wikipedia page says he’s now a Buddhist monk.

kc1.jpg

A Young Person’s Guide to King Crimson (front).

kc2.jpg

A Young Person’s Guide to King Crimson (back).

kc3.jpg

The Compact King Crimson (1986).

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The album covers archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Giger’s Tarot
The Major Arcana by Jak Flash
The art of Pamela Colman Smith, 1878–1951
The Major Arcana

 


 

Posted in {art}, {books}, {film}, {illustrators}, {music}, {occult}, {painting}.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

 


 


 

6 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by G.

    gravatar

    Fascinating, John; I don’t have much to add but I loved reading the piece.

  2. #2 posted by John

    gravatar

    I’ve no doubt it’s all of very minority interest but I’d been wanting to mention Fergus Hall for a while so it was the perfect opportunity.

  3. #3 posted by herr doktor bimler

    gravatar

    I am appalled by the lack of references to Charles Williams and ‘The Greater Trumps’.

    I’ve no doubt it’s all of very minority interest
    No-one warned me that there might be minority-interest material at Feuilleton!

  4. #4 posted by John

    gravatar

    I would have mentioned the Williams if Fergus Hall had painted a cover. My copy is the Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult edition which uses the Waite cards:

    http://www.denniswheatley.info/graphics/342-11.jpg

  5. #5 posted by herr doktor bimler

    gravatar

    I like Jim Lamb’s cover art for the Eerdman edition but again it draws from the Rider-Waite cards.

  6. #6 posted by Tororo

    gravatar

    Oh the memories! I remember having owned the vinyl King Crimson’s Guide, back in the day, and later having presented it to… a young person that was in need of a guide to King Crimson. However I had forgotten the back cover painting: this design was an interesting choice as an image for the World trump! Thanks for all the info.

 


 

tracker

 


 

“feed your head”