Guy Peellaert’s Diamond Dogs among MoMa Collection Highlights for 2018 Calendar

Guy Peellaert. Diamond Dogs (1974). Lithograph. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Lawrence Benenson.

Guy Peellaert. Diamond Dogs (1974). Lithograph.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Lawrence Benenson.

Richly illustrated with artwork featuring cats and dogs from MoMA's collection—ranging from Giacometti to Koons and from Picasso to Louise Bourgeois—this spiral-bound, 12-month appointment calendar features one week per spread, and comes with the following foreword from MoMa director Glenn Lowry.

The Museum of Modern Art has always celebrated art that reflects and interprets life and living creatures. Among those creatures are the ones we love the most: our pets. As a dog owner and lover, I was drawn to the idea of a calendar that pays homage to our most faithful companions, dogs and cats. This calendar features works from various curatorial departments, showcasing a wide representation of these furry, multi-faceted beings. 

They range from the playful and lovable, such as Antonio Mendoza's Untitled (cat and dragonfly) or Lee Friedlander's photo of former MoMA photography curator John Szarkowski with his poodle; to the sinister (Rufino Tamayo's Animals or Theophile-Alexandre Steinlen's Summer, Cat on a Balustrade). There's also the delightfully depraved, such as Guy Peellaert's Diamond Dogs

I hope you enjoy this wildly eclectic homage to the tradition of pets and the important roles they play in our lives. 

Click here to purchase MoMa’s 2018 appointment calendar from the museum’s online store.

Notes on a scandal : when Charles Manson met Roman Polanski

Guy Peellaert. Tijuana (Charles Manson, Jack Nicholson, Roman Polanski, Timothy Leary). From the Twentieth Century Dreams series (1995-1999).

From the Twentieth Century Dreams archives :

Tijuana, Mexico. A narrow, filthy street full of cantinas and seedy nightclubs. A mangy dog lying in the roadway, chickens pecking at the dirt. Prostitutes standing in neon-lit doorways; red dresses, gaudy jewellery. 
An enormous American car comes cruising down the street. A convertible, driven by Timothy Leary. Roman Polanski is sitting on cushions to see over the windscreen ; and Jack Nicholson is in the back, the Nicholson of
Chinatown, with his nose bandaged. Both Leary and Nicholson are eying hookers with big breasts and slit skirts. But Polanski is staring hungrily at a very young girl, scarcely older than a child, in a communion dress.
The little girl's pimp is Charles Manson.

Charles Manson Dies at 83; Wild-Eyed Leader of a Murderous Crew

 

Guy Peellaert's "The Game & Other Stories" to be published next Fall

A strip from Guy Peellaert's The Game (1968)

A strip from Guy Peellaert's The Game (1968)

We are excited to announce our first major editorial effort since the 2013 American reissue of The Adventures of Jodelle. In the fall of 2018, we will be publishing The Game & Other Stories, the first collection of Guy Peellaert’s experimental bandes dessinées, created between 1968 and 1970 for Hara Kiri. Originally published in the immediate wake of Peellaert’s iconic Pravda La Survireuse (1967) these works are unsuspected milestones of the artist’s explosive Pop period, having never been published in book form since their fleeting appearance in the groundbreaking countercultural paper.

Created and published consecutively as a series of monthly episodes, these « stories » emphasize the phenomenal diversity of the artist’s visual research and underscore his unique approach to bande dessinée, a mostly juvenile and disregarded medium he had conquered almost by accident as he brazenly upended its traditions with Jodelle in 1966. Following his own singular trajectory, he would proceed to use this « sub-culture » as a laboratory for radical and relentless visual experimentation, introducing some of the key techniques that would prove decisive to his most emblematic artistic achievements in the following decade. Steadfastly refusing to capitalize on any previous momentum, Peellaert would forever leave bande dessinée behind after these last meteoric contributions at the dawn of the 1970s.

The Game (1968) is a surreal allegory of the Vietnam war, centering around the tragic fate of a star football team whose bombastic self-confidence is put to the test when its players are mysteriously transported into a strange and morbid adventure as they take part in a frenzied game. This stunning work, which for the first time combines the streamlined draughtsmanship of the « Jodelle style » with photographic collages appropriated from popular media, highlights Peellaert’s characteristically ambiguous obsession with America, an oscillation between fascination and indictment first explored in Pravda the previous year. The kinetic visual stimuli of an all-conquering consumer society and the rise of sports as mass entertainment provide the canvas for a cruel and absurdist antiwar story which counts Richard Lester’s black comedy How I Won the War among its notable influences.

She & The Green Hairs (1968-1969) is an hallucinatory road trip for which Peellaert relinquishes the pleasures of draughtsmanship in favor of intricate psychedelic photomontages splashed with loose garish strokes, breaking away from all the visual and narrative customs of bande dessinée by combining elements of stream-of-consciousness writing with the photo novel. Taking the peregrinations of a mysterious blue-haired girl as a narrative pretext, the artist soon begins crafting largely improvised, compressed and elliptical stories expressed through frantic compositions unmistakably influenced by the use of psychedelic drugs. 

A plate from Guy Peellaert's She & the Green Hairs (1968-1969)

With Carashi! (1969-1970) Peellaert momentarily leaves behind his experiments with photography and returns to the drawing board, this time resolutely eschewing the sophistication of the Jodelle style for a radically vulgar aesthetic. This outlandish saga is an anarchist killing spree in which three female protagonists—in turn victims or butchers—come to grips with a wide variety of allegorical figures representative of the religious and political establishment within a farcical phallocratic society. Among Peellaert’s works from the Pop period, this inflammatory assault on bourgeois tastes and values is most emblematic of the self-described « silly and mean » mindset that characterizes Hara Kiri’s singular brand of free-spirited black humor. In subtle ways, the subversive grotesque sensibility of Carashi! also finds resonance in Robert Crumb’s « underground comix », which were produced around the same time.

Several months before its publication, Marsha Bronson (1970) was advertised as the « great new peellaertian heroine, after Jodelle and Pravda » on the back cover of Hara Kiri, and was therefore the subject of great anticipation. But the restless multi-hyphenate artist, who had always acted as a special guest rather than a full-time member of the Hara Kiri family, was becoming tired of his repetitive monthly contributions, and he resented the more serious political turn taken by the publication following the upheavals of 1968. By 1970, Peellaert was spending extensive time in West Germany working on experimental television techniques, and he was already elaborating the project that would become Rock Dreams when he chose to bid adieu to his breathtaking 4-year collaboration with a characteristically offhand parting gift : did he ever imagine that this rushed 4 pages story was going to be his last, and that he would never publish another bande dessinée ?

A plate from Guy Peellaert's Carashi! (1969-1970)

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of The Game and to mark the first 10 years since Peellaert’s passing, we are thrilled to introduce these stunning yet unfamiliar works. Very few people have had a chance to experience them since they were first published in the pages of Hara Kiri, and we’re hopeful that the renewed interest in the legacy of the pioneering publication will bring along a reappraisal that is long overdue.

The Game & Other Stories will be published in collaboration with Éditions Prairial, a Paris-Based publisher specializing in the reissue of out-of-print classics such as Max Ernst’s La Femme 100 Têtes or Raoul Dufy and Guillaume Apollinaire’s Le Bestiaire

A new essay examining the context and legacy of Peellaert’s last bandes dessinées will be contributed by curator and critic Alexandre Devaux.

A plate from Guy Peellaert's The Game (1968) 

Rare Pravda panel shines in groundbreaking Bundeskunsthalle exhibition

Guy Peellaert. Pravda La Survireuse, detail from panel 50 (1967)

Bonn's Bundeskunsthalle has opened a comprehensive transnational survey dedicated to the art of "Comics! Mangas! Graphic Novels!" 

Curators Alexander Braun and Andreas C. Knigge have assembled an exceptional collection of over 300 original panels from the US, Europe and Japan, examining the evolution of a most elusive art form, from its beginnings as the first visual mass medium in the late 19th Century to its later celebration as the « Ninth Art » all the way to its ambiguous current status as an economic powerhouse driven by mangas and superheroes on the one hand and a haven of independent expression since the rise of the « graphic novel » on the other.

The Bundeskunsthalle exhibition, the most ambitious of its kind in Germany, navigates this fragmented landscape by highlighting pivotal moments in the medium’s history, such as the publication of serials like Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland and George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, which were the first to target adult audiences in American newspapers.

The Underground & Independent section of the show does a wonderful job of highlighting the trailblazers who broke new ground in the 1960s, when the emerging counterculture and its ethos of Sex, Drugs & Rock ’n’ Roll spurred maverick artists such as Robert Crumb and Guy Peellaert to upend the traditions of their chosen field from both sides of the Atlantic, paving the way for a new generation of comics creators in the 1970s. Peellaert would leave comics—or bande dessinée—behind as early as 1970 after a whirlwind of genre-defying visual experiments, while Crumb continued to hone the distinctive aesthetic he had started with « underground » strips such as Fritz the Kat in 1965.

On view at the Bundeskunsthalle is an absorbing panel from Pravda La Survireuse, created in 1967, in which Peellaert draws inspiration from the Detroit riots of the same year. In this memorable piece, the iconic heroine, her narcissistic love interest Beau and her sidekick cupid L’Amour are gratuitously assaulted by brute police forces after seeking refuge in a hippie shack reminiscent of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury flower-power utopia. This is the artwork’s first public display, and it provides a rare opportunity to study Peellaert’s technique up-close, with layers of preliminary pencil sketchings and traces of corrective white paint visible under the assuredness of the dramatic stylized silhouettes rendered in black ink.

Comics! Mangas! Graphic Novels! is on view May 7th - Sept 10th
Download the press release here.

Guy Peellaert. Pravda La Survireuse, detail from panel 50 (1967)

In Memoriam : Chuck Berry (1926-2017)

Chuck Berry by Guy Peellaert, from the Rock Dreams series (1970-1973). Photomontage, ink and paint on paper.

Once upon a time, Chuck was Charles, just another flash dude in a barbershop. A brown-eyed handsome man, it's true, but all his sass had no direction and he felt trapped. Then one day, while he was sweeping up some loose clippings, he slipped and almost took a tumble. Instead of falling flat on his face, however, he did the splits and came up on his haunches, skipping like a Cossack. Thus was invented the Duck Walk. 

That changed everything. In an instant, he was transformed into a superman. They called him the St. Louis Tiger and he was a poet, a lover, a necromancer.

"This man and his Duck Walk", said Alan Freed, "are destined to make history..."

—Nik Cohn

Guy Peellaert's Early American Dreams in Paris

Edward Hopper (1882-1967). New York Movie (1939)

Edward Hopper (1882-1967). New York Movie (1939)

"The Age of Anxiety", a small but triumphant show currently on view at Paris' Musée de l'Orangerie, examines the enthralling new forms of expressions which arose in the aftermath of the economic crash of 1929, revealing how a troubling social reality allowed for a great diversity of artistic sensibilities to bring forth a distinctively American sense of modernism in painting. 

Opening with Georgia O'Keefe's enigmatic still life Cow's skull with Calico Roses (1931) and Grant Wood's iconic American Gothic (1930)—both on loan from the Art Institute of Chicago—and closing with Edward Hopper's Gas (1940), the show provides a unique opportunity for European audiences to contemplate a number of masterpieces rarely, if ever, exhibited outside the US.  

Guy Peellaert's appreciation of Hopper is well-documented and the American master's signature use of the negative space provided a key reference point for the Las Vegas, the Big Room series. The pensive woman from New York Movie (1939), off-centered from the stage and reclining against a wall, exemplifies a sense of isolation dramatically contrasting with the popular entertainments from a new urban age of escapism that are the focus of the show's strongest room, titled "Show Town".

But it is the raw energy of the street as captured by Reginald Marsh—a long disregarded painter virtually unknown in Europe who nevertheless counted among Peellaert's personal heroes—which exudes the most peellaertian vibe : the Belgian artist's composition for 42nd Street from Twentieth Century Dreams (1995-1999) bears a strikingly similar composition to that of Twenty Cent Movie (1935), Marsh's exuberant egg-and-tempera rendition of the craze for burlesque theaters in New York City. By his own admittance, the garish billboards and thrill-seeking city dwellers that were the hallmarks of Marsh's populous spectacles were a revelation to the young Peellaert, who discovered them in the pages of Life magazine in the 1940s. Growing up in a conservative bourgeois household in Brussels, the young Peellaert found in these "vulgar" paintings a liberating sensory escape that would prove decisive in shaping his own future aesthetic.

Reginald Marsh (1898-1954). Twenty Cent Movie, 1935 

Reginald Marsh (1898-1954). Twenty Cent Movie, 1935 

Guy Peellaert. 42nd Street (Luis Bunuel, Jack Johnson, Frederico Garcia Lorca, Salvador Dali) from Twentieth Century Dreams (1995-1999)

Thomas Hart Benton is another popular American painter whose legacy would be largely overshadowed by the advent of Abstract Expressionism in the post-war period. In Europe, the young Peellaert could only have come across the former illustrator's work through the pages of Life or Saturday Evening Post. Benton, a Regionalist painter whose favored subject matters included ordinary people and common lore, is known for his soulful depictions of the American midwest, in particular his native Missouri. Peellaert often cited Benton's life-affirming large-scale murals, such as America Today, as a formative influence, as he made particularly clear in the bold cinematic composition of his Gerswhin Frieze (1991). 

The highly stylized rural scenes from two of Benton's less grandiose undertakings on view here, Haystack (1938) and Cotton Pickers (1945) bring to mind Peellaert's little-known Cinema Blues, which was originally created as the cover art for the jazz album of the same name in 1993. Peellaert's evocative depiction of a lovelorn bluesman, executed in pastel over a photographic base, seems to reference Benton's characteristic sinuous landscapes as well as his ability to infuse paintings with an emphatic sense of rhythm and sound, although Peellaert injected his homage with a characteristic dash of sex-appeal in the form of a curvaceous babe in high heels and skintight faux-leather dress walking into the distance, suitcase in hand.

Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975). Cotton Pickers (1945)

Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975). Cotton Pickers (1945)

Guy Peellaert. Cinema Blues (1993)

The 1930s also marked the advent of the car as a central motif of the American Way of Life. In a room titled "Nightmares and reality" hangs Grant Wood's famous Death on the Ridge Road, where the emblem of modernity and mobility takes on menacing qualities as two vehicles enter a collision course with a red truck atop a narrow and curving hillside road. The 1935 painting, which once belonged to Cole Porter, was a clear source of inspiration for Peellaert's untitled 1994 depiction of a wartime ambush, originally commissioned as a promotional poster for the Claude Lelouch film Les Misérables. The dramatic perspective and fierce lines of force from Peellaert's high-octane composition seem to take several cues from Wood's ominous narrative of pending disaster. 

"The Age of Anxiety" is on view until January 30th

Grant Wood (1891-1942). Death on the Ridge Road (1935)

Grant Wood (1891-1942). Death on the Ridge Road (1935)

Guy Peellaert. Untitled (1994) 

From Etienne Daho, a New Lease on "Lives on Mars"

Guy Peellaert. Pour Nos vies Martiennes (Etienne Daho) 1988.

Etienne Daho, the trailblazing French singer-songwriter who burst onto the musical scene in the early 1980s with a singular, intimate yet infectious blend of electropop and rock, continues to forge his own unique path to rock royalty. On the strength of a distinguished career spanning over 30 years, Daho has in recent years emerged as a Godfather figure, a key inspiration, collaborator and facilitator to a new generation of French-born musicians who came of age under the influence of his sophisticated and romantic sounds.

As Mr Daho, who turned 60 this year, puts the finishing touches on a new album to be released in 2017, this end-of-year sees a major reissue of his 1988 classic Pour Nos Vies Martiennes, which offers a remastered sound and no less than 36 tracks, of which 25 are exclusive to the new set. Wildly successful upon its release—and certified gold on the very first day it became available—the album was titled after David Bowie's Life On Mars, and its sound deftly eschewed the easier pop of Daho's previous albums in favor of a self-professed "poetic spleen" firmly rooted in rock.

In another nod to Bowie, Daho asked Guy Peellaert to create the cover art. The artist, who had vowed to stay away from such commissions since the release of the Rolling Stones' It's Only Rock 'N Roll, nevertheless agreed to the collaboration and thus put an end to a 15-year hiatus. In the resulting work, which arguably counts among the highlights of the period, Peellaert revisited not only the Rock Dreams technique, based on a signature photomontage and airbrush painting process, but a specific image from his 1970 series, titled The Promised Land, which sought to capture not a famous persona but a mood, a bittersweet reverie about teenage seduction and romantic longing against a backdrop of flaming Las Vegas casinos.  

The new composition reprised the vibrant blue-yellow color scheme and some of the key elements from The Promised Land, most notably the central character paired with another male figure, standing right beside him yet somehow faintly removed from the scene, which traded the Vegas neons for the garish entertainments of the Foire du Trône, the popular Paris amusement fair where Peellaert had shot his source photographs.

Like many of Peellaert's artworks based on the Rock Dreams technique, Pour Nos Vies Martiennes presented a number of challenges before it could be shown again. Although Mr Daho, having kept the original painting since its creation, had allowed the Estate of Guy Peellaert to photograph the piece at his home, the work was plagued by an all-too-common characteristic : the photosensitive inks favored by Peellaert at that time had faded considerably, turning vivid blues and warm yellows into dull grays, altering the painting's singular mood beyond recognition. To make matters worse, all photographic records of the artwork had been inexplicably missing from the artist's archive at the time of his death, and Virgin Records, which had released the album in 1988, could not locate the original reproduction material even after several months of research.

Eventually, it took a desperate intervention from Daho himself to retrieve the Holy Grail : a 1988 transparency which finally allowed for a perfect digital reproduction of the artwork in its original incarnation. 

Guy Peellaert. The Promised Land, from Rock Dreams (1970-1973)

The newly remastered edition of Pour Nos Vies Martiennes

The newly remastered edition of Pour Nos Vies Martiennes

In Memoriam : Fidel Castro (1926-2016)

Guy Peellaert. Hara Toro (Fulgencio Batista, Fidel Castro, Ernest Hemingway, Ernesto Che Guevara, Ava Gardner) from Twentieth Century Dreams (1995-1999).

"Hemingway is in Havana. It is the 1950s, his fat period. Big white beard, cigar, loud fisherman's shirt worn outside his trousers. He is in a casino nightclub with Ava Gardner and President Batista. The young Castro is at the next table, whispering words of love into the ear of a chorus girl. Ava Gardner is on the dance floor, doing the mambo with Che Guevara. Hemingway watches them with an old man's hatred and despair."

(from a correspondance between Nik Cohn and Guy Peellaert, c. 1995)

Five Lives of Bob Dylan, Nobel Prize Winner

Guy Peellaert, Superstar Bob, from Rock Dreams (1970-1973)

When in 1970 Nik Cohn and Guy Peellaert embarked on their collaboration for the Rock Dreams series with the aim of capturing the "daydreams" that had shaped popular music as a collective fantasy from Frank Sinatra to David Bowie, they chose to deal with Bob Dylan with a suite of four distinct images under the title Robert Zimmerman, His Journeys and Adventures. The ensemble was conceived as an odyssey depicting the young Zimmerman at defining turning points, from frail runaway teen to "Voice of a Generation", and from international stardom to reclusive family man. 

Twenty-five years later, Cohn and Peellaert's Twentieth Century Dreams series, building on similar principles to convey the "secret history" of the past century, did not leave out Dylan. This time, the elusive folk legend was paired with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir in a "dream" that encapsulated several of the musician's incarnations : the drug-hazed poet, the would-be painter, and the Jewish bard. 

Could Cohn and Peellaert ever have anticipated Zimmerman's latest incarnation as the Nobel Prize Winner for Literature ? As the world impatiently awaits Mr Dylan's comments, Peellaert's works remind us that images really are worth a thousand words.

Guy Peellaert. Robert Zimmerman, His Journeys and Adventures : Hobo Bob, from Rock Dreams (1970-1973)

Very young and frail, Bob left his home one day and set forth to seek his fortune, with his possessions knotted in a red-spotted handkerchief and his pussycat at his heels. Then he slept in logging camps, in ditches and swamps and mudflats next to railroad tracks and inside county jails, with only his guitar to keep him company, and he journeyed all through America.

Guy Peellaert. Robert Zimmerman, His Journeys and Adventures : New York  Bob (Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Allen Ginsberg) from Rock Dreams (1970-1973). 

Itinerant minstrel, he sang and played as he travelled and, somewhere on the road, his eyes opened wide and his soul was filled with purpose, a spirit of crusade. From that moment forward, his path was set and he bent himself to the ceaseless combatting of tyrannies, the righting of wrongs and overthrow of hypocrisies, until peace and love should spread to all mankind. Thus, when at last he reached New York, he did not hesitate but rushed pellmell to Bleeker Street, where his message might be best understood. In bars and dimlit cellars, he sang through his nose and preached, and all who heard him were thunderstruck. 

Guy Peellaert. Robert Zimmerman, His Journeys and Adventures : Superstar Bob, from Rock Dreams (1970-1973)

Soon his fame spread and he toured, grew rich and was worshipped. Messianic, he need only point his finger and the temples trembled before him. Now he travelled the world, a potentate, whose person was sacred, whose every word was scripture, and the multitudes flocked to see him, and touch him, and bend to kiss his feet.

Guy Peellaert. Robert Zimmerman, His Journeys and Adventures : Country Bob, from Rock Dreams (1970-1973)

However, even Messiahs must have hobbies, and Zimmerman’s was his motorbike, which proved to be his downfall. For one night, he fell off and broke his neck, and very nearly died. Thankfully, he was spared and, in time, he made his recovery. But, in the meantime his tastes had changed and age had made him mellow, so that he no longer played at potentates. Instead, he grew plump and became a Jewish patriarch, with six children and a homestead, where he sat at the kitchen table, the American dream personified, eating country pie…

Guy Peellaert. Promised Lands (Bob Dylan and Gold Meir) from Twentieth Century Dreams (1995-1999).

When pressed to explain the ideas behind Promised Lands, Peellaert offered the following :

"Dylan had always dreamed of an ideal Israel, so this image of Chagall-esque hallucination evokes that... Of course we know Israel is far from that ideal, as are the kibbutz of the beginnings. As Dylan is hosted by Golda Meir as part of a state visit, he escapes to his room pretending to be sick and lights up a joint. Seeing him pallid, Meir arrives with a broth like a good Jewish mother. It's all a bit of a joke about Israel."