Posts Tagged ‘Jonh Ingham’

Never published before: Rejected Barney Bubbles artwork for Generation X

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
Gen X - reject 1007 copy

//Proof copy of unused front cover for single sleeve, Your Generation/Day By Day, Generation X, Chrysalis, 1977.//

Presented here for the first time in nearly 35 years, this is Barney Bubbles’ original artwork for the front cover of Your Generation, the 1977 debut single by Generation X.

The design was rejected because the photograph was considered too routine. What a shame. This is a typically high-impact Bubbles work  combining concise photographic presentation with audacious typography.

The quartet’s manager Jonh Ingham, the journalist who had been at the forefront of punk reportage, has dug it out from his archive exclusively for this blog.

“I cut, folded and glued it, so we could see what the sleeve would look like held in the hand,” says Ingham.

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David Allen: From A(rtouble) to Z(eros) and back

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

In June 1978, the British graphic artist David Allen was introduced to Barney Bubbles backstage after a gig at LA’s celebrated Sunset Strip club Whisky a Go Go.

12in sq sleeve. Front cover, Kill City, Iggy Pop & James Williamson, Radar, 1978.

“It was most likely some punk rock-a-thon; The GoGos, Devo, The Dickies?” says David, who has been based in New York since the mid-80s and recalls that Barney’s friend and label boss Jake Riviera was present, as was local  music champion and Bomp! owner, the late Greg Shaw.

Back cover, Kill City.

“I had been an avid reader of Friends and NME, grew up in north-west London when seeing Hawkwind was no big deal, and was at the first Glastonbury Fayre, so could critique the pyramid fold-out blindfold in a box,” says David.

24in x 36in paperboard. Unfolded outer of Revelations - A Musical Anthology For Glastonbury Fayre, Revelation, 1972.

“Like many, I was exposed to Barney’s work from an early age without being aware of who was responsible,” says David. “It was Greg Shaw who identified that the anonymity he aspired to was high art, Duchamp-esque for the mid-70s. Around that time, if a clever record cover had no credits, you assumed it was a Barney Bubbles.”

Poster 20in x 30in. Freedom Of Choice, Devo, 1980.

At The Whisky, the fellow artists compared notes. “Barney was dressed like an eye test, black-and-white striped shirt and trousers, not quite matching,” recalls David. “We were both sober enough to make sociable conversation and had some common ground.”

7sq in. Front cover, Kill City/I Got Nothin', Radar, 1978.

A connection was Kill City. This collection of Iggy Pop and James Williamson demos (with contributions from David Bowie) had been released earlier in 1978 by Bomp! in the US and Radar in England, housed in David’s first album sleeve.

Back cover, Kill City/I Got Nothin'.

As explained here, when the lead track was issued as a UK single, Barney created a Warholesque sleeve and gritty promotional campaign.

David graduated from Harrow College Of Art in 1976 having studied graphic design with a “strong illustrative leaning”. A fan of Roxy Music, David Bowie, Kilburn & The High Roads, Dr Feelgood and Kokomo, he’d hung out at Biba’s Rainbow Room, Dingwalls, The Hope & Anchor and The Roundhouse, then high-tailed it to LA via a stop-over in Manhattan.

Poster celeebrating 30th birthday of The Masque, 1997.

“After a year I had found my way into the Hollywood punk scene  – see Live At The Masque: Nightmare In Punk Alley – doing graphics for bands and clubs,” says David, whose commissions included the logo and sleeves for singles by the great “Mexican Ramones” The Zeros, whose founding member Robert Lopez is over in Europe in his incarnation as the fabulous El Vez next week.

7sq in. Back and front cover, Wild Weekend/Beat Your Heart Out, The Zeros, Bomp! Records, 1978.

“I shared a rundown mansion with punks including Margo from The GoGos, John and Exene from X and Jonh Ingham,” says David. “X did their first ever show in my living room. Todd Rundgren was there, and Darby Crash started a spaghetti fight”

GoGos photosession art directed by David Allen. 1978.

By this time David was involved in the late Claude Bessey‘s Slash magazine and was soon  hired as art director of Bomp! the label and magazine. When he  met photographer Jules Bates at The Masque one night, the pair launched design company Artrouble.

Late 70s: Jules Bates (left) and David Allen.

David recalls that the late 77 arrival of The Damned’s Music For Pleasure in it’s Barney-designed sleeve grabbed his attention.

Slash number 7, January 1978.

“I’d already been using abstracted typefaces for a while at Slash,” says David.  “But Music For Pleasure raised the bar on legibility vs illegibility. Like all of his work it is a great ‘design’, but with a sophisticated visual subtext delivered with sharp wit.”

In the wake of the encounter at The Whiskey, David returned to Britain and visited Riviera, who commissioned a logo and stationery for his company.

Logo/stationery header, Riviera Global, 1979.

“I met him in his tiny office and  got the idea to design a huge factory with it’s own nuclear reactor as the company logo,” says David.”For the font I chose Profil, as used for signage at London Airport in the 50s.”

During that visit, David also caught up with such Barney admirers as Malcolm Garret, Al McDowell‘s company Rockin’ Russian and George Hardie, though by this time Barney was focusing on designing his furniture range so was unavailable.

12 sq in. Back and front, Freedom Of Choice, Devo, Warner Music, 1980.

Back in LA, Artrouble developed with illustrator/make-up designer  Phyllis Cohen, producing such work as Devo’s Freedom Of Choice, a number of sleeves for The Dickies, Kim Fowley’s Snake Document Masquerade and The Motels’ Four Square.


12sq in. Front cover, Snake Document Masquerade, Kim Fowley, Antilles, 1979.

“We designed for everyone from Shawn Cassidy to The Gap Band, Earth Wind & Fire to The Surf Punks, Chaka Khan to The Weirdos,” he adds.

Having moved to New York in the mid-80s, David worked at such publications as Soho News, East Village Eye and High Times, and has more recently painted and manages Sorceress.

“I still get the odd record cover and just returned from a six-week study of the Mayan empire in central America, so hope to be painting again soon,” says David.

6sq in. Front cover, Greg Shaw tribute CD, Bomp!, 2006.

David reserves particular affection for Greg Shaw,  a pivotal figure in American independent music who died aged 55 in 2004. “Greg was a soft-spoken Valley kid without whom very little of note would have occurred in the lives of many young people back then,” says David.

For the Artrouble archive, go here.

Bang! When Barney Bubbles brought Berlewi to Generation X

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

One of the key works by Barney Bubbles is the 7″ 1977 sleeve  for Your Generation/Day By Day, the debut single by British punk band Generation X.

Left: 7" sleeve. Front cover, Your Generation/Day By Day, Generation X, 1977. Right: Composition In Red, Black And White, Henryk Berlewi, 1924. Lodz Museum of Art.

Designers such as Peter Saville and Malcolm Garrett discuss the design’s importance in near-epiphanic terms. 

“We saw the sleeve and received a very clear signal,” says Peter in his essay in Reasons To Be Cheerful. “Mr Barney Bubbles – whose work we already knew from Hawkwind and Stiff – was saying: “‘Constructivism has my blessing.’ Our response was: ‘Yes,  this is the way’.”

Front cover, 7" sleeve. Your Generation/Day By Day, Generation X, Chrysalis, 1977.

Here we discussed how the band’s co-manager Jonh Ingham’s chance encounter with Barney sparked the commission.  Barney was able to accomodate Jonh’s freshly acquired interest in constructivism and, at the same time, nod to the band’s self-designed t-shirts. 

Now the exact source of inspiration has been identified by Dutch writer and Barney fan Jan Vollaard and Doris Wintgens Hotte, curator at the Stedelijk Museum in Lakenhal, which is hosting the exhibition Theo van Doesburg And The International Avant-Garde.

It is a work entitled Composition In Red, Black And White, one of 12 by the Polish artist Henryk Berlewi to accompany his 1924 manifesto Mechano-Faktura, which proposed that painting be “designed” according to the principles of modern technology and mechanical reproduction.

Back cover, 7" sleeve. Your Generation/Day By Day, Generation X, Chrysalis, 1977.

Berlewi was associated with many of the important figures of the post World War 1 Continental art movements and was later recognised as having pioneered op-art, the abstract geometric work adopted by the fashion industry as decoration in the 60s. In photographs by Edward Hartwig he is surrounded by models in op-art dresses.

Jan showed Doris the Generation X sleeve as part of his preparation for tomorrow’s presentation on Barney’s integration of the work of van Doesburg and his peers such as Berlewi.

Composition In Red, Black And White. Henryk Berlewi, 1924.

“Doris was surprised and intrigued,” says Jan. “Right away she took me to see Berlewi’s painting and explained  his manifesto of mechanical constructivism and the way in which he captured movement and form in abstract, square-cornered compositions.”

Generation X guitarist Tony James surrounded by self-designed t-shirts, 1977. To the left is his own version of Barney's "45". Photo: Ray Stevenson.

The Your Generation sleeve is one of the clearest examples of Barney’s distillation of art history references. Using Berlewi’s painting as a springboard, Barney reassembled the elements into a multi-layered  piece which accurately expressed the visual minimalism and energy of the punk period, led by the “45” pun on the rpm of the 7in single contained within, and the geometric representation of a record being played from above. 

Henryk Berlewi surround by his paintings and models in "op-art" dresses, 1966. Photo: E. Hartwig.

Berlewi is important as an exemplar of Eastern European Jewish graphic art, which would also have chimed with Barney’s Jewish roots. Yiddish scholar Seth L. Wolitz  has discussed how, under the influence of El Lissitzky in the early 20s, Berlewi  moved from expressionism to constructivism, meeting along the way Van Doesburg, Moholy Nagy and the German Dadaists.

His work was recognized by the avant-garde art dealer Herwarth Walden, who published the manifesto Mechano-Faktura in his publication Der Sturm in 1924.

 

Forty three years later, Barney recast Berlewi in the frenetic context of punk-rock. In the process he inspired not just Saville and Garrett but also Neville Brody, Al McDowell and successive waves of rock music-mad art students to delve into the art movements of the early 20th century and forge a new design aesthetic.

A Henryk Berlewi archive has recently been launched; Wolitz is among the board members. You can find out more here.

Meanwhile full details of Jan Vollaard’s presentation are here.