Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Art of the Beatles

1984, First U.S. edition, from Beech Tree Books
Mike Evans
The Art of the Beatles
Bought newish for $17.95
Good condition hardcover with worn dustjacket

Evans (no relation to the Jeffersons actor) looks at visual art by and about the Beatles.  This book was inspired by a Liverpool exhibition earlier that year, including "photography, painting, sculpture, book illustration, film animation, graphic design record sleeve art, poster art, theater, fashion, and comic strip cartoons."  So it goes from Stu Sutcliffe's paintings to the then most recent art inspired by the Beatles.  In fact, the best piece is the one that graces the front and back covers, Barry Agar's The Trojan Horse, a collage-like painting of nearly every well-known image of the Beatles from the '50s and '60s:

The writing is overall good, although like so many books lately, this has a number of typos.  By concentrating more on the look than the sound of the Beatles, Evans is able to offer a different perspective than usual.  Himself a Liverpudlian, he writes from that view, although he includes artists from the U.S. and elsewhere.  Not all of the artwork is great-- including the "hotel" painting by all four Beatles-- but it's always interesting.  As well as Stu's work, there are pieces by Astrid, Cynthia, Yoko, and Paul's brother Mike, although not Linda.  Understandably, the band's break-up, followed a decade later by John's death, froze the images of Beatles in time, so that while there are contributions by artists showing the solo Beatles, the art more often reflects the group as a group.

If I had to pick one page other than either page of Trojan Horse, I would recommend p. 101, an Abbey Road photo outtake, the Beatles walking to the left of the picture rather than the right, with more of a skipping movement than the almost regimented legs of the famous cover.  As Evans writes, the "Paul is dead" brigade would've had a field day if they'd seen all the alternate photos, including "the zebra crossing empty (now that could have signified all sorts of calamities)."

1 comment:

  1. Hi
    I found you by complete accident!
    My name is Elaine Agar the artist's wife.Thank you for the amazing commentson the"Trojon Horse" Beatles painting.If you would like a free print of it sent us your details.
    Kind Regards
    Barry and Elaine Agar