Ian Lynam pays tribute to the genius of Barney Bubbles

May 14th, 2015 by Paul Gorman

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A film of a recent celebration of Barney Bubbles’ work by American graphic designer Ian Lynam is now available to view online.

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Presenting his paper at Vermont College Of Fine Arts, Tokyo-based Lynam investigated Bubbles’ importance in the development of visual communications.

Describing Bubbles as “a profound influence” on subsequent generations of practitioners, Lynam drew comparisons between Bubbles and the Japanese designer Tadanori Yokoo.

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Lynam also acknowledged his own debt to my championing of Bubbles’ work, along with that of British design authority Rick Poynor (who commissioned the first substantial overview for the UK’s Eye magazine in 1992).

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View Lynam’s talk to VCFA students here.

Lynam’s article The Genius Of Graphics Designer Barney Bubbles was published by Red Bull Music Academy here.

Visit Tadanori Yokoo’s website here and Ian Lynam’s here.

Read Julia Thrift’s 1992 piece on Bubbles for Eye here.

Amazing Hawklord drumhead comes to light after four decades

January 8th, 2015 by Paul Gorman
Hawkwind drumhead designed by Barney Bubbles 1972

//Drumhead painted by Barney Bubbles for Hawkwind drummer Simon King’s kit, 1972//

A rare design by Barney Bubbles has come to light after four decades; the psychedelic sci-fi drumhead was painted for Hawkwind when the space rocking Sonic Assassins undertook tours around the world following the success of their Silver Machine single in 1972.

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//Hawkwind – including, from left, Nik Turner, Stacia Blake, Simon King and Lemmy – performing with the drumheads in situ at the Windsor Free Festival, August, 1973. Photographer: Unknown//

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//12″ paper inner for Barney Bubbles’ packaging for Doremi Fasol Latido, Hawkwind, UA, 1972//

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//Detail of grimacing Hawklord from the Doremi inner//

The design of a snarling apparition – a so-called ‘Hawklord’ as depicted on the group’s album Doremi Sofal Latido – was one of a pair which adorned the front of the twin bass-drums in Simon King’s kit during this period.

Bubbles – charged with “Optics” and effectively the group’s art director – applied an integrated approach to the collective far beyond the remit of just creating album sleeves, posters and other promotional material.

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//Flam Flam: Barney Bubbles drumhead for Glen Colson, 1983//

As mentioned in my Barney Bubbles monograph Reasons To Be Cheerful, the visual impact of painted drumheads appealed to Bubbles; as well as these for Hawkwind, he designed others for Pete Thomas (of Chilli Willi And The Red Hot Peppers/The Attractions), Will Birch (Kursaal Flyers/The Records) and his publicist friend Glen Colson.

The current owner of the amazing Hawkwind drum-head has treasured it for a number of years.

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A fuller version of this story appears on my blog here.

The owner also has the original drumkit, for which offers are being welcomed. These should be directed via the contact mail on my blog (in the About Me section).

Barney Bubbles lines up with the greats with a clutch of works in MoMA’s 2014 diary

February 27th, 2014 by Paul Gorman

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Barney Bubbles is included among the greats of 20th Century art, design and photography in the handsome 2014 appointments calendar issued by New York’s Museum Of Modern Art.

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//Poster for The Damned’s album Damned Damned Damned, Stiff Records, 1977. (C) Barney Bubbles Estate//

 

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//Litho print of variant of front cover design for Do It Yourself by Ian Dury & The Blockheads, Stiff Records, 1979. (C) Barney Bubbles Estate//

 

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//Elvis Costello poster for Lives Stiffs tour, 1977. (C) Barney Bubbles Estate.//

The ring-bound calendar includes illustrations of work by such artists as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Ferdinand Léger as well as designs by Shin Matsunaga, Seymour Chwast, Milton Glaser and Ralf Winkler.

MoMA has selected three Bubbles works from its collection: posters for the 1977 Live Stiffs tour and The Damned’s debut album and a litho print of one of the variants of his design for Ian Dury & The Blockheads’ 1979 Do It Yourself LP.

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//Back cover of MoMA’s 2014 calendar, designed by Adam&Co//

There are 10 Bubbles designs in MoMA’s permanent collection, donated by the prominent New York art collector Lawrence Benenson. View them here.

Barney Bubbles, July 30 1942 – November 14 1983: A celebration in rare and previously unpublished images and artworks

November 14th, 2013 by Paul Gorman
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//Barney Bubbles with poster/programme for Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ Armed Forces tour, west London, 1979. Photo courtesy Chalkie Davies//

In celebration of the creative legacy of Barney Bubbles – who died on this day 30 years ago – here is a selection of rare and previously unpublished images and artworks.

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//Drawing of Odeon cinema facade, Richmond, south-west London from early 60s student sketchbook. © Barney Bubbles Estate//

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//Credit to “the magnificent Barney Bubbles”, Oz 38, 1972//

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//Ident for Kevin Coyne’s 1973 LP Marjory Razorblade. © Barney Bubbles Estate//

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//Photobooth shot from Stiff Records day out, 1977//

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//Bubbles (left) with Suzanne Spiro, Jake Riviera, Cynthia Lole, Paul Conroy and Dez Brown at Stiff Records offices, from Melody Maker, August 6, 1977. Photo: Barry Plummer//

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//Single sleeve proofs for Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ giveaway 45 Talking In The Dark/Wednesday Week, December 1978//

 

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//FBeat Records letterhead, 1980//

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//Profile, pen and ink on art board, 1983. © Barney Bubbles Estate//

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//Profile, pen and ink on art board, 1983. © Barney Bubbles Estate//

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//Pen and ink on art board. The sparkplug, along with the lightbulb, was one of the recurring motifs of Bubbles’ later work. © Barney Bubbles Estate//

Read here for recent examples of Bubbles’ pervasive influence.

 

Did Barney Bubbles forge the Psychedelic Furs/John Piper connection?

October 22nd, 2013 by Paul Gorman

//Top: Abstract 1, John Piper, 1935; above: Front cover, Danger, The Psychedelic Furs, CBS, 1982//

One of the hallmarks of Barney Bubbles’ body of work is the elevation of the methods of art historicism.

While perusing a copy of the early 80s exhibition catalogue Circle: Constructive Art In Britain 1934-40 last week I came across John Piper’s Abstract 1, one of a series of investigations into abstraction by the artist in this period.

//Front cover, Circle: Constructive Art In Britain 1934-40, edited by Jeremy Lewison, Kettle’s Yard Gallery, 1982//

//Reproduction of Abstract 1 in Circle (Left) with sections of John Cecil Stephenson’s Painting, 1937, and Freidrich Vordemberge-Gildewart’s Composition no 94, 1935 (right)//

Abstract 1 in particular chimes with the Bubbles’ painting incorporated into the design for the front cover of The Psychedelic Furs’ single Danger.

//Abstract 1, oil and commercial paint on canvas, 917cm x 1065cm, Tate Britain//

//Composition, oil on canvas, 55.4 x 68 cm, 1937, Ashmolean//

//Abstract 1935, gouache and collage, 1935, Pallant House Gallery//

The Furs’ single was released in 1982, the year Circle was mounted at Cambridge gallery Kettle’s Yard to reflect on the outpourings of pre-WWII modernism from Piper, as well as such artists as Naum Gabo, Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson.

As Bubbles’ work in his final years grew increasingly reductive, his preoccupations became aligned with those of early 20th century artists, in particular regarding the simplification of natural forms to geometric essentials.

This was combined with his fascination for constructing faces from unusual elements – as explored a few years back here – in the Danger design.

I don’t know whether Bubbles visited Circle or was even aware of the show, but it’s pleasurable to contemplate the ways in which this master designer invigorated his work – en route achieving maximum engagement with his audience – by drawing on the relatively recent history of art and design.

Buy copies of Circle: Constructive Art In Britain 1934-40 here.

Magick is Freedom! Existence Is Unhappiness + OZ #12

October 22nd, 2013 by Paul Gorman

//Magick Is Freedom!, one of a series of 24 A0 posters by Graham Wood which were on show at Scarlett Gallery, Stockholm, last year//

British designer Graham Wood’s 2012 exhibition Magick Is Freedom! was inspired by a single design created by Barney Bubbles and David Wills with a team of contributors in the late 60s.

Entitled Existence Is Unhappiness, this formed one side of the two double-facing fold-out poster inserts with issue 12 of underground magazine Oz in May 1968.