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John Fahey’s Paintings

John Fahey is perhaps best known as the much revered avant-garde guitarist who incorporated aspects of the likes of folk, blues, and bluegrass to classical music, musique concrete, and noise in his primarily acoustic guitar-based compositions. During his lifetime he was considered an icon, changing the sonic landscape of guitar music on a monumental scale.

However, what is less known about Fahey’s already impressive career is his work as a painter. These psychedelic, naive and timeless paintings are the work of the guitar legend. Later on in his life he extended his so-called  American Primitive approach beyond music, and into the development of paintings created in make-shift studios around Salem, Oregon.

Painting on found poster board and discarded spiral notebook paper, working with tempera, acrylic, spray paint, and magic marker, Fahey’s intuitive approach echoes the action found through his music.  Many of these paintings were used by Fahey to barter with for hospitality while he lived on the road and in motels, and others were given away or discarded. Passing away in 2001, his paintings are refreshingly devoid of any of the then contemporary art practice, creating these pieces of art work solely through his own isolated creative practice. Starting the practice again in the 1990s after it being a childhood hobby,  in the book’s essay by critic Bob Nickas, Fahey’s former wife Melody recalls one of his common creative processes: “He made these small paintings by putting the powder into wet phone books and then he’d stomp on them…” she says.

New York’s Audio Visual Arts gallery curator Justin Luke said: “Around 2009 I was having a conversation about Fahey with an artist I’d been working with called John Andrew. We were both old fans of Fahey’s and knew he’d painted. [...]

Help The Pink Narcissus Creator James Bidgood Carry On Creating His Art

Try and imagine a world where Pink Narcissus hadn’t been made. The arthouse drama film visualises the erotic desires of a gay male prostitute in fantasy landscapes shot in intensely saturated colour. It was released in 1971 under an ‘Anonymous’ crediting but was finally attributed to its true creator, James Bidgood in the 80s. Pink Narcissus took seven years to film and was shot entirely in  Bidgood’s living room, laboriously and fantastically transformed into the variety of scenes that act as backdrops to Pink Narcissus’ erotic desires.

Bidgood is an American artist who embraces multiple disciplines to create his world of immersive erotic enchantment. After moving to New York aged 17, Bidgood started working at Club 82, the infamous basement club of drag staging shows three times a night, seven days a week. Starting out as a singer, Bidgood then designed the sets and costumes for the performances. Whilst studying at Parsons School of Art and Design, he dressed window displays. Bidgood’s most excessive and fabulous designs were staged at the New York Junior League Ball and these costumes were subsequently used as the sets for the homeoerotic fantasy scenes he photographed for the next seven years, all created and shot in his living room.

The first photograph he took was of a sea nymph swimming in an underwater utopia called Water Colors using Club 82 dancer Jay Garvin. In his profile of Bidgood in Aperture,  Philip Gefter dissects Bidgood’s production of Water Colors; ‘the bottom of the ocean was created with silver lame spread across the floor of Bidgood’s apartment; he made the arch of a cave out of waxed paper, and fashioned red lame into the shape of lobster. He coated Garvin with mineral oil and pasted glitter and sequins to his skin so the silver fabric under photographic [...]

Steven Meisel’s ‘Role Play’ at Phillips London and New York

Infamous for his ability to capture and regurgitate the zeitgeist of fashion, Steven Meisel is one of the most significant photographers of the twentieth century, having shot infamous fashion campaigns and editorials and launching the careers of some of the world’s most famous models has just had a new exhibition dedicated to his work open in London.

The pioneering radical’s work will be shown through a  collection of 25 of his most notable works is currently on show at Phillips Auction House London as part of his travelling selling exhibition celebrating his prolific career titled ‘Role Play’. 

Meisel’s complex photographs are often truly controversial; he juxtaposes fashion with politics to explore and criticise contemporary social tensions. Some of the themes he’s explored in his editorials consists of the likes of the Iraq war, female mental illness and plastic surgery. The July 2008 ‘All Black’ issue of Italian Vogue was shot completely by Meisel and featured an entire casting of black models which was created as a reaction to the lack of racial diversity in fashion imagery. When asked about the issue Meisel said, “obviously I feel that fashion is totally racist. The one thing that taking pictures allows you to do is occasionally make a larger statement. After seeing all the shows though I feel it was totally ineffective. I was curious—because it received a lot of publicity—whether it would have any effect on New York, London, Paris, or Milan, and I found that it did not. They still only had one token black girl, maybe two. It’s the same as it always was and that’s the sad thing for me.”

Meisel is credited as having launched the careers of the world’s supermodels through his discovery and promotion. His influence can be felt in the [...]

A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America

A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America is a new exhibition which has just opened at the American Folk Art Museum in New York. Presenting an eclectic selection of American folk art primarily made in rural areas of New England, the Midwest, and the South between 1800 and 1920, works on show vary from portrait paintings, commercial and personal sculpture, still-life and landscape paintings. There will also be distinctive examples of art from the German-American community exemplify the breadth of American creative expression by individuals who did not always adhere to the academic models that established artistic taste in urban centers of the East Coast.

This exhibition will showcase an inspiring variety of content sure to inspire anyone interested in the culture of tattooing, especially that of the traditional and flash style. The naivety of iconic images such as birds, flowers, flags and religion are relayed over and over again in the pieces of folk art shown in this exhibition which overlaps with the origins of flash designs evolution. The incomparable beauty of the innocence and lack of ego in these pieces of artwork is an area of our contemporary culture which is often neglected in modern artwork and craft, so this exhibition will be sure to present us with a perfect and refreshing human contrast our present digital realities. And its free!

A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America December 14, 2014–March 8, 2015 American Folk Art Museum in New York 2 Lincoln Sq, Columbus Ave
Midtown West
New York

Skinhead: An Archive at Ditto Press

The skinhead subculture has to be one of the twentieth centuries least understood and explored subcultures which boasts profoundly political and aesthetically challenging qualities. Ingrained with a partially racist history, in depth  celebration of the formation and traits of this subculture have often been brushed under the carpet due to its often aggressive undertones. However the skinhead culture wasn’t entirely racist and its breadth of ritual is really quite expansive. Existing with a cross section of zine content, photographs, record covers and tattoo documentation this book looks sure to grasp the missing links of how this subculture has been digested in terms of its cultural influence.

The book has been divided into sub-sections looking at the original iteration of skinhead, the fascist interpretation, the socialist counterpoint, queer skinhead culture, exploitation literature, skin girls, and everything in between.

So it is deadly exciting that Ditto Press have been working with graphic designer Jamie Reid to design this new study of the Skinhead subculture with printed material curated by Toby Mott.

If that want exciting enough the book features an exclusive font design, developed and adapted from a skinhead article in Penthouse magazine, which will be available to download in the Ditto store. Alongside a wealth of unseen visual material, the book will contain texts from writers with unique experience of the culture, including Bruce la Bruce and Garry Bushell.

This evening Ditto Press will be holding their private view for this new book and exhibition where as a part of the exhibition, one of Sang Bleu’s favourite menswear designers Martine Rose will showcase new work responding to the subject material, helping to put skinhead culture into a contemporary context. NTS Radio will be supplying the amazing Gary The Tall, playing original skinhead sounds, with a guest appearance by Ray Gange from [...]

An Interview with Tattooer Max Kuhn

Traveling around the country, booking appointments on his cell phone, and tattooing “semi-legally” from hotel rooms, errant tattooer Max Kuhn‘s way of tattooing seems to attract almost as many followers as the tattoos themselves. Yet, one would be remiss to write off such travels as gimmicky; anyone who looks closely at his tattoos–bold, romantic, nostalgic interpretations of classic Americana–can feel how their imagery and facture seem inextricably bound to his life as a tattoo outsider; with thick lines and bold shading, they’re a little bit crude, but dynamically angular, clever and strong. We recently caught up with Max to talk about his work, travels, and why he eschews the tattoo “community.”

How did you first start tattooing?

When I was a young teenager and really wanted to start getting tattoos, I didn’t have any money. The (pretty naive) way I saw it was: I could try to come up with $100 and then either buy myself a tattoo or buy a tattoo kit and give myself unlimited tattoos. I had some older skateboarding friends who had tattoo equipment floating around and took turns doing stick figures and devil heads and stuff on each other. I didn’t know anything about tattoos and didn’t really get to see tattoos very often so the stuff they had, to me, looked pretty good. It seemed possible, anyway. I got some equipment and I gave myself some terrible tattoos. I also tattooed a few friends that bullied me into it but I really didn’t have any ambition to do tattooing. I just wanted to have tattoos. Doing it myself was just the easiest way to get them. I was 16 and had no idea what I was doing, literally no idea. I’d [...]

‘Everything is permissible as long as it is fantastic.’ —Carlo Mollino at the Gagosian New York


Carlo Mollino (1905-1973) is perhaps best known as the Italian architect who famously merged a variety of styles throughout the mid twentieth century to create what has become known as the  “Turinese baroque” by mixing elements of Surrealism, Art Nouveau, Futurism, ancient mythology, and a passion for the female form into his architectural practice. His career was expansive in its diversity, including not only the practice of architecture but also that of furniture design, automobiles, aircrafts and writings on topics ranging from photography to skiing.

However what is perhaps most interesting about Mollino besides from his ability to master so many different forms of cultural practice was the discovery of a vast collection of over 1,000 polaroids found after his death of women in erotic stages of undress in gorgeously lit and nostalgic spaces taken in secret.

He obsessively produced hundreds of his images of women from the 1930s onwards, fascinated by new photographic techniques, Mollino switched to a Polaroid camera in 1963, when his images became more sexually explicit. He conceived each one as an erotic fantasy and dictated every detail: directing the models (most of whom he had hired for the purpose and only photographed once) as well as designing the clothes, sets, wigs, accessories, props and garçonnières, creating the most perfect encapsulation of his fantasies.  Finally, having printed the Polaroids, Mollino would painstakingly amend them with an extremely fine brush, to attain his idealized vision of the female form.

The New Yorker declared, “This lavish selection of several hundred Polaroids preserves the essential mystery of a project both decadent and hermetic. Though clearly the product of a deep obsession, the photographs are deliberately impersonal, each baroque detail an invitation for the viewer to imagine Mollino’s encounters with the women.”

The women that [...]