Tooropia

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The Sphinx (1895).

The Dutch Symbolist isn’t a stranger to these pages but every so often a drawing or painting by Jan Toorop draws attention to itself. The Sphinx above is oft-reproduced but you don’t always see it in colour or at a size that does justice to its detail. De Staatskas (below) is a caricature I hadn’t seen before, an unusual piece whose background is filled with stringed instruments that are also smoking chimneys.

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Desire and Satisfaction (1893).

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De Staatskas (1895).

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Ralph Steadman record covers

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Informal Jazz (1956) by Elmo Hope Sextet.

Yesterday’s post made me realise I’d never looked to see how many album covers Ralph Steadman might have designed or illustrated. A quick delve into Discogs revealed the following haul, a couple of which I own on CD. Steadman has worked in a wide range of media but I didn’t know his album work went back into the 1950s. The style of the early sleeves is markedly different to the angry, splattery creations that made his name, and without a signature you’d be unlikely to recognise the artist.

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Conception (1956) by Miles Davis, Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz, Sonny Rollins, Zoot Sims.

Artists known for their work outside the music world tend to have pre-existing art used on record sleeves but Steadman is unusual in creating so much cover art afresh. In light of this I’ve omitted the CD insert for a dramatisation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas which repeats the drawing familiar from many of the paperback editions.

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4 Altos (1957) by Phil Woods, Gene Quill, Sahib Shihab, Hal Stein.

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Back Country Suite For Piano, Bass And Drums (1959) by Mose Allison.

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Polaroids

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I was given a Polaroid Instant Camera some years ago, not the cult SX-70, a later model. I still have it somewhere but never used it very much. The film cartridges were still available in shops, but at around £1 a shot Polaroids always seemed like a costly indulgence unless you had some specific use for them which I never did. The photo of Murnau’s Nosferatu was taken from a TV screen, and seems to be the only print I kept.

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Radiation Victim Holding a Rabbit and Carrot (1974) by Les Krims.

This post was prompted by a search for the Polaroid manipulations made by Les Krims in the 1970s. Krims was one of the first people (the first?) to exploit the potential of the print’s slow processing to create surreal and grotesque images. Krims self-published a collection of these as Fictcryptokrimsographs in 1975. The Francis Bacon-like “radiation victim” is one of the more restrained examples, many of the others being male and female nudes in various stages of mutation.

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Peter Gabriel (1980).

The mutation technique was more famously employed by the Hipgnosis design team and Peter Gabriel for the cover art of Gabriel’s third album. (Americans insist on calling this album “Melt” even though it was never titled as such.) The technique was also used for photos on the inner sleeve and on two of the single releases.

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No Self Control (1980). Front and back sleeve of 7-inch single.

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William Burroughs by Ralph Steadman.

Also in 1980, Ralph Steadman says discovered the same technique while on holiday in Turkey. I recall him discussing his own manipulations, which he calls “Paranoids”, on TV around this time. There’s no indication that Steadman was aware of Krims or the Gabriel album but he’s continued to use the technique ever since. The Burroughs portrait was one of a series created in 1995 when Steadman paid a visit to Lawrence, Kansas. There’s film of the meeting here although I’m more interested in the older TV film on the same page which shows Steadman creating a new composite portrait by drawing onto the emulsion.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Portrait

NecronomiCon Providence 2015

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Next month I’ll be in Providence, Rhode Island, where I’m the Artist Guest of Honour for NecronomiCon Providence 2015. This is an honour for me in more ways than one: the city of Providence, or its representation in the spectral prose of HP Lovecraft, has occupied a fair amount of my creative life, especially in the comic-strip adaptations I was drawing in the 1980s. I just hope the citizens of Providence can forgive the liberties I took with the city’s architecture in The Haunter of the Dark where the buildings owe far more to the architecture of Scotland than they do to New England.

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A nameless entity from Lovecraft’s Monsters (2014).

The main event where I’m concerned will be the Ars Necronomica art show at the Providence Art Club on Thomas Street. This is a few doors away from the beautiful Fleur-De-Lys Studios, a building that Lovecraft mentions in The Call of Cthulhu, and which (having done some research this time) filled a panel in my adaptation. In the story the building is the home of eccentric artist Henry Wilcox so it’s a dizzying prospect to find my own art being exhibited a few doors away. Among my works there will be print enlargements of some of the illustrations from last year’s Lovecraft’s Monsters, Ellen Datlow’s expertly edited collection of recent Lovecraftiana; and the piece I created in 2007 for the Exhibition of Unspeakable Things at Maison d’Ailleurs, Switzerland, has been refashioned especially for this show. My work isn’t the only art on display, there’ll be contributions from 50 other artists which I think must make the event one of the largest Lovecraftian art shows staged anywhere. The show opens on August 11th but the official opening will be on the 20th which happens to be Lovecraft’s 125th birthday. Big thanks to Joe Shea, Niels Hobbs et al for arranging everything.

The convention begins on the 21st, and rather than attempt to summarise the astonishing range of events it’s easier to provide links to the main schedule and the additional programming. For anyone interested in attending, there are still day passes available, while many of the additional events are open to the public. Oh, and I’ve also designed the cover for the convention booklet so attendees will be able to get their copy defaced by my signature. (I’m probably making work for myself here, aren’t I?) And I’ve just noticed that there’s a preview of the booklet cover on the convention Facebook page.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Yuggoth details
A Mountain Walked
Lovecraft’s Monsters unleashed
Lovecraft’s Monsters
JK Potter and HP Lovecraft
Cthulhu Labyrinth
Tentacles #4: Cthulhu in Poland
Cthulhu Calendar
S. Latitude 47°9, W. Longitude 126°43
Resurgam variations
De Profundis
H.P. Lovecraft: The Complete Fiction
Heavy Metal, October 1979: the Lovecraft special
Cthulhoid and Artflakes
Cthulhu for sale
Cthulhu God
Cthulhu under glass
CthulhuPress
The monstrous tome
Cubist Cthulhu

Walking sticks

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If I have to use a walking stick in future then my choice of implement would have certain requirements… Who needs an Apple watch when there are timepieces like these to be found?

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This elegant design is from Alexander McQueen so it isn’t cheap. I wouldn’t say no to one as a present, however.

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Most of these choices are skull-topped canes but this antique piece stood out from the crowd.

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