Tony Bennett, David Byrne, and occasionally David Bowie all do it--they make art. With the introduction of Paul McCartney: Paintings
, we can now add the famous Beatle to the list. The book is a catalog of paintings from McCartney's 1999 exhibition in Germany. Music and art have many things in common; for McCartney it is the freedom to "play" that connects both endeavors. Fittingly, his paintings draw most of their influence from abstract expressionism, in which the material quality of the paint itself inspires the drips, blobs, and splatters. His paintings range from cartoon-like figures and faces to open landscapes. The colors are dynamic with varying thicknesses of paint, some with marks scratched into the surface, all with stories and symbolic value.
From the illustrations and accompanying essays to the very candid interview, we are given remarkable insight into McCartney's practice as a committed creative person. He confides his insecurities as a painter who has never gone to art school, and his defining moments as an artist both musically and visually. There is an unusually generous section in which McCartney discusses many of the paintings in the book; it's a behind-the-scenes look as he elaborates on the personal meanings behind certain symbols, tells stories and anecdotes, and acknowledges his painterly influences, specifically Willem de Kooning. Also included are personal photographs of the artist at work, 117 color illustrations, and 17 duotone photographs. --J.P. Cohen
From Publishers Weekly
Yes, it's him, and no, they're not bad. In 1982, after years spent as a collector and in the company of artists, McCartney began painting his first canvases, inspired (as he notes repeatedly in the various interviews here), primarily by the late Willem de Kooning, who lived down the road from him at the time. The paintings he produced then and sinceAselected here in 117 color illustrations and 17 duotone photosAreadily show the late de Kooning's influence: lush color washes, careful blocking of the canvas, airy abstraction. The problem is that none of McCartney's paintings in this style approach his models in terms of brush work, or significance. Inane titles and commentary on the work do not help matters. McCartney and interlocutor Wolfgang Suttner, a culture bureaucrat in the German county of Siegen-Wittgenstein, have the following exchange over Big Mountain Face, which furnishes the book's cover: Suttner: "It is the McCartney style, it is drainage. I think we talked about this picture being like the face in the mountain." McCartney: "Yes, like Mount Rushmore, the monumental faces of American presidents. It's as if someone has carved this great big face on the side of the mountain." A loose assortment of little-known art journalists with varying degrees of separation from McCartney (one was "supported by McCartney" in a gallery endeavor and is a former editor of the Beatles' literary imprint, Zapple), provide further insights into works like Boxer lips, Sea God, Mr. Kipps; Brains on Fire and Bowie Spewing (McCartney: "Which means being sick"). But the paintings are pleasant to look at, at times evoking Philip Guston (White Dream) and '80s landscape artist Christian Brechneff, and fans will be happy to see their man has a hobby at which he excels. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.