Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Wallace Berman "Untitled #127 (Donovan), Verifax Collage

 


Wallace Berman "Untitled #127 (Donovan), Verifax Collage, 6 x 6 1/2 inches, Framed 12 x 12 1/2 Inches. Kohn Gallery is currently closed to the public. We are receiving deliveries and are available for appointment viewings. Please contact the gallery at 323 461 3311 or email Karys Judd at karys@kohngallery.com. Wearing of face coverings and signing of a waiver will be required for entry.
Gallery Hours
By appointment only
Gallery Information
1227 North Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
T 323 461 3311
Parking in rear off of North Citrus Ave

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Serge Gainsbourg Playlist for Apple Music & Spotify

 


Here is the playlist Kimley and I put together for Serge Gainsbourg and connected to our Book Musik episode on the great Serge and the book by Jeremy Allen "Relax Baby Be Cool: The Artistry and Audacity of Serge Gainsbourg." We go deep here, so enjoy the music world of Gainsbourg:

Apple Music: Serge Gainsbourg Playlist for Apple Music

Spotify: Serge Gainsbourg playlist for Spotify

GAINSBOURG: The Biography by Gilles Verlant

 


Gainsbourg: The Biography
By Gilles Verlant. Translated by Paul Knobloch.
When Serge Gainsbourg died in 1991, France went into mourning: François Mitterand himself proclaimed him “our Baudelaire, our Apollinaire.” Gainsbourg redefined French pop, from his beginnings as cynical chansonnier and mambo-influenced jazz artist to the ironic “yé-yé” beat and lush orchestration of his 1960s work to his launching of French reggae in the 1970s to the electric funk and disco of his last albums. But mourned as much as his music was Gainsbourg the man: the self-proclaimed ugly lover of such beauties as Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin, the iconic provocateur whose heavy-breathing “Je t’aime moi non plus” was banned from airwaves throughout Europe and whose reggae version of the “Marseillais” earned him death threats from the right, and the dirty-old-boy wordsmith who could slip double-entendres about oral sex into the lyrics of a teenybopper ditty and make a crude sexual proposition to Whitney Houston on live television.
Gilles Verlant’s biography of Gainsbourg is the best and most authoritative in any language. Drawing from numerous interviews and their own friendship, Verlant provides a fascinating look at the inner workings of 1950s–1990s French pop culture and the conflicted and driven songwriter, actor, director and author that emerged from it: the young boy wearing a yellow star during the German Occupation; the young art student trying to woo Tolstoy’s granddaughter; the musical collaborator of Petula Clark, Juliette Greco and Sly and Robbie; the seasoned composer of the Lolita of pop albums, Histoire de Melody Nelson; the cultural icon who transformed scandal and song into a new form of delirium.

Gainsbourg: The Biography


FROM THE BOOK
"Now it's impossible to understand what will follow – namely the mad passion that will unite Bardot and Gainsbourg for no more than a few weeks but which will have serious repercussions for the both of them – without taking into consideration the reckless Don Juanism of this woman, who at the age of 33 is at the height of her beauty. Our anonymous contributor continues: 'She dealt with her conquests like a praying mantis: Serge, like me and like all the others, was zombified by Bardot. That woman had a supreme talent for grinding men into rubble. Serge was a totally atypical lover for her. He had the authenticity of a real artist, he hated money, and he led his life with a sort of heedless existentialist ethic. He was the exact opposite of the clean-cut types she had been with. I am convinced that Serge fascinated her much more than her other lovers. He brought her into a world of intelligence and talent, which no one had ever exposed her to before. Little did it matter that he had a face like a gargoyle from Nôtre-Dame. What's more, he brought a whole new world to her, served up on a silver platter, which is just what she needed at the time. Thanks to Serge she was hip again.'"
-Excerpted from Gainsbourg: The Biography
You can purchase the book here: Gainsbourg: The Biography by Gilles Verlant

"Evguenie Sokolov" by Serge Gainsbourg, his only work of fiction (TamTam Books)


Evguenie Sokolov
By Serge Gainsbourg. Translated by John Weightman, Doreen Weightman.
Serge Gainsbourg's sole foray into fiction, Evguenie Sokolov describes an artist who uses his intestinal gases as the medium for his scandalous artwork. What once was a smelly and noisy problem in his social and sex life becomes a recipe for success in the early 1980s art world.
FROM THE BOOK
"So, as I said to myself during the dark hours of the night while trying in vain to get to sleep, the pestilential exhalations prophetic of my corporeal death were to serve the purpose of channeling and transcending that which was more pure, most enduring and most despairingly ironical in the inner depths of my creative mind, and after all the years devoted to the technique of painting and all the day spent releasing my gases in front of museum walls radiant with the genius of the great masters, these jagged, fragile and torturous lines had now rid me forever of my inhibitions."

Excerpted from Evguenie Sokolov.

You can buy a copy here: 

Evguenie Sokolov by Serge Gainsbourg 

Serge Gainsbourg's "Confidentiel"

 


Serge Gainsbourg died on March 2, 1991, and I discovered his music in 1995. "Melody Nelson" is without a doubt a masterpiece, but my personal favorite album by him is "Confidentiel." Backed by just an electric guitar and double bass, this album rocks in a manner that reminds me of Elvis's Sun Records sessions. It's not rockabilly, but its jazz is deeply felt, and Serge's brilliance shines throughout this album. His songwriting talents are strong in this collection of songs. My favorite song on this album is "Scenic Railway." It's Bertolt Brecht's iciness meeting Robert Bresson's attention to detail. Other classics unfold to the listener. Superb album. -Tosh Berman


Lisen to the Book Musik podcast on Serge Gainsbourg here: Book Musik: Serge Gainsbourg & Jeremy Allen

Monday, March 1, 2021

The Three Serge Gainsbourg Compilations I recommend as an Entrance to His Music

 




These are the three compilations that I found to be an excellent introduction to the music by Serge Gainsbourg. There are many compilations out there, but these three are very focused and well-curated. Listen to our Book Musik podcast with the author Jeremy Allen on his great book "Relax Baby Be Cool: The Artistry and Audacity of Serge Gainsbourg. Hear it here: Book Musik: Serge Gainsbourg/Jeremy Allen

Book Musik: No. 41 "Relax Baby Be Cool: The Artistry and Audacity of Serge Gainsbourg - Discussion with author Jeremy Allen

 

Book Musik 041 – Relax Baby Be Cool: the Artistry and Audacity of Serge Gainsbourg – discussion with author Jeremy Allen

Relax Baby Be Cool: the Artistry and Audacity of Serge Gainsbourg by Jeremy Allen - book cover

Tosh and Kimley are joined by author Jeremy Allen to discuss his new book Relax Baby Be Cool: the Artistry and Audacity of Serge Gainsbourg. When Gainsbourg died in 1991, the French mourned the loss of an icon on par with the deaths of Elvis Presley or John Lennon. But outside of France few noticed or knew much about him beyond perhaps his infamous duet with Jane Birkin, “Je t’aime… moi non plus.” Eventually the cult of Gainsbourg began to grow outside of France and he’s become a huge influence on musicians far and wide. This book explores the mythos of Gainsbourg and doesn’t shy away from his often provocative and controversial life.

Theme music: “Behind Our Efforts, Let There Be Found Our Efforts” by LG17



Sunday, February 28, 2021

Wallace Berman, Untitled #112, Verifax Collage

 


Wallace Berman, "Untitled #112" Ezra Pound, Verifax Collage, 6 x 6 1/2 inches, Framed 12 x 12 1/2 Inches.

Kohn Gallery is currently closed to the public. We are receiving deliveries and are available for appointment viewings. Please contact the gallery at 323 461 3311 or email Karys Judd at karys@kohngallery.com. Wearing of face coverings and signing of a waiver will be required for entry.
Gallery Hours
By appointment only
Gallery Information

1227 North Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
T 323 461 3311

Parking in rear off of North Citrus Ave


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Wallace Berman, "Untitled #79" Verifax Collage, 6 x 6 1/2 inches, Framed 12 x 12 1/2 Inches

 

Wallace Berman, "Untitled #79" Verifax Collage, 6 x 6 1/2 inches, Framed 12 x 12 1/2 Inches. Kohn Gallery is currently closed to the public. We are receiving deliveries and are available for appointment viewings. Please contact the gallery at 323 461 3311 or email Karys Judd at karys@kohngallery.com. Wearing of face coverings and signing of a waiver will be required for entry.
Gallery Hours
By appointment only
Gallery Information

1227 North Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
T 323 461 3311

Parking in rear off of North Citrus Ave


Friday, February 26, 2021

"American Blood: Selected Writings 1961-2020 by Danny Lyon (Karma, 2021)

 

ISBN: 978-1-949172-45-4

Before reading Danny Lyon's "American Blood," I knew very little of this iconic photographer. I knew of his book "The Bikeriders" and that he is work-wise associated with Robert Frank's photographs and may be similar to Larry Clark, with respect to his "Tulsa." Like the other two, he is a photographer who captured a form of life in front of his camera lens. I also knew that he was very much an activist and involved in the Civil Rights Movement. Beyond that, he was a ghost to me. Every once in a while, a book would appear, but I sensed that he was a photographer/journalist who didn't compromise when it comes to his work. So in that sense, he reminded me of Frank and Clark. What I really didn't know is that Danny Lyon is a writer of great worth.  

Reading "American Blood" is like peeling an onion. The more I read these essays, interviews, and various writings, the more I get a sense of his character. When I read the first few essays, he struck me as someone who is not humorous and took things in life very seriously. One of the photographs in the book is the first photo he has ever taken. It's an image from Dachau, Hitler's first concentration camp, and it of a tree where the Nazis had taken Jews to be shot. A lot of the book deals with his time and thoughts on American prisons. Here was an artist who spent a great deal of time recording and acknowledging the horrors on this planet. 

At first, it was a bit too much for me. Still, I couldn't put the book down due to Lyon's character as well as his writing which I found beautiful because he avoids the easy answer or knuckle-head response to issues that were and still are important in American society. As one reads on, his world expands, and as a reader, you're going on the ride with him. His observant writing and stance make him unique because he articulates so well. He nails the prison system for what it is, an exploration factory and a landscape that is a world within a world. Lyon accepts people as if they are, not as he thinks they should be. His moral hatred for those in power and exploitation is apparent on these pages. As a photographer, it's interesting to acknowledge the difference between the digital and analog world. He doesn't like digital, but as the book goes on, he accepts certain aspects of that environment. For social justice, he acknowledges using a phone camera where one can capture a moment of distress or injustice, not just by one photographer. Lyon is the generation of the fellow who carries a heavy camera with him and deals with obtaining film, developing, having a darkroom, and the pros and cons of it. This is not a manual on how to take images. But more of a point-of-a-view of a creative soul who cares deeply about the world around him. Lyon cares about photography as an art and as a manner to explore one's world and record the injustices that take place around the planet. In such a way, Danny Lyon is very much a romantic adventurer. 

Wallace Berman, "Untitled #58" (Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones) Verifax Collage

 

Wallace Berman "Untitled #58" (Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones), Verifax Collage, 6 x 6 1/2 inches, Framed 12 x 12 1/2 inches.

Kohn Gallery is currently closed to the public. We are receiving deliveries and are available for appointment viewings. Please contact the gallery at 323 461 3311 or email Karys Judd at karys@kohngallery.com. Wearing of face coverings and signing of a waiver will be required for entry.
Gallery Hours
By appointment only
Gallery Information

1227 North Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
T 323 461 3311

Parking in rear off of North Citrus Ave

Thursday, February 25, 2021

David Bowie - "Look At The Moon! (Live Phoenix Festival 97)" Parlophone, 2021

 


David Bowie - "Look At The Moon! (Live Phoenix Festival 97)" Parlophone, 2021

What surprises me about the discography of David Bowie is the albums released after his death. Sometimes when an artist dies and record companies release material, it's often the Earth's dregs. Bowie, on the other hand, had some exciting and superb album releases. My favorite of the bunch is his live album from 1997, "Look At The Moon!" There are many fine or even excellent live albums from Bowie, but "Look At The Moon!" is superb. At this time, Bowie got his groove or poison out, and he was coming with influential albums at the time. Especially 1995's "Outside," and the next album, "Earthlings." Bowie made the conscious choice not to rely on his older material but focus on his new interest in electronically orientated dance music that still rocked. 

Bowie had consistently surrounded himself with great musicians. Lots of distinctive players throughout the years give the Bowie sound that special kick. It strikes me that he was a great collaborator and knew how to be a proper band leader by having his musicians offer their unique talents to the mix.  When I listen to "Look At The Moon!" I get the impression I'm listening to a band and not an artist with a backup band. In all the other albums, I feel the presence of Bowie and whoever is playing behind him. But here, I'm hearing a band's effort, and this is what makes this live album exceptional. Four musicians are playing with Bowie, and each one has the space to fill out their instruments. The guitarist Reeves Gabriels plays like the combination of Eddie Van Halen and Robert Fripp. His guitar is in your face, but he also adds textures to the soup that are important to the overall sound. Bassist and singer Gail Ann Dorsey play aggressively as well as having a voice of a fallen angel. Tender, soulful, and a perfect compliment to Bowie's vocals. Their version of Laurie Anderson's "O Superman" is pretty spectacular. The harmonizing of Bowie and Dorsey's vocals are matched perfectly. The drums of Zachary Alford, throughout the album, you can feel it in your gut. You can say that about the bass as well. This has to be, on a sonic level, the best live album I have ever heard. 

Mike Garson doesn't do small backup piano, he's up there in the mix, and his playing is a combination of Monk and Liberace. I heard his excellent work throughout the Bowie decades, but here you can really hear the magic that he makes. Another beautiful thing about the recording is that one can clearly hear each musician and their contribution to the song. These musicians have played with Bowie for years. Still, this particular recording or show comes off as a singular unit.  

There are surprises here, even on the songs you know.  The old Blues standard "Driftin' Blues" introduces a driving "The Jean Genie."

This is not a variety show by Bowie. Five of the songs are from "Earthling," his current album at the time. Two tunes from "Outside," and every other piece is a reloaded, remodeled, re-texturized version of his deep cut hits. Garson puts slight touches of Gershwin in the song "I'm Afraid of Americans." The songs from "Earthlings "are more fleshed out than their studio versions. But still, it's almost like a techno garage rock band arrangement. This is music being performed than staying close to the studio version—an aggressive and muscular approach to these songs. There are traces of "The Man Who Sold The World" era sounds, but with the addition of the jazzy Cecil Taylor touches by Garson. Come to think of it, that album does have a band sound as well. 

"Look At The Moon!" in a manner captures Bowie's entire music life at that point. There are many references to classic soul music throughout the album/performance. Bowie sings the faint traces of Chic and The Commodores "Brick House" in the song "Fashion." The "Where do we go from here" line in "Looking For Satellites is like a great song from a forgotten Broadway musical. Bowie has the riff going, and then there is a beautiful melody behind the riff. I never get bored with his music because the layer of melodies/textures/word fragments makes the listener's brain go with the groove. Still, also a lot of brain food is here as well. Reeves guitar playing on a melody is noise but never losing the beauty of the music. When he's good, he's great. And the song ends in a classic piano motif one can hear in an elegant piano bar in Manhattan. On "Scary Monsters," Bowie does Anthony Newley.  It is really a Newley-based song (at least in style) than anything else, at least in the live version. "Hallo Spaceboy" quotes the Everly Brothers "Bye-Bye Love." Bowie gives a James Brown tip-of-the-hat in "Little Wonder" by putting in "Night Train." 

Criminally this is released as a limited edition of 6,000 copies. By luck, I pre-ordered the album for $39.95.  Now it's going for over $100 in the second-market places and sites. The album is too good to be left in the hands of the few. And as I mentioned, the recording itself is so vivid and wonderful. I rarely call a live album a masterpiece, but this is true in that category and the case. 

PMVABF and Signed Copies of TOSH for this weekend

 


TOSH: Growing Up in Wallace Berman" Signed Copies

The link above will lead you to my page where you can purchase a signed copy of my book.

Wallace Berman: "Untitled #40, Verifax

 

Wallace Berman: "Untitled #40, Verifax Collage, 6 x 6 1/2 inches, framed 12 x 12 1/2 inches
Kohn Gallery is currently closed to the public. We are receiving deliveries and are available for appointment viewings. Please contact the gallery at 323 461 3311 or email Karys Judd at karys@kohngallery.com. Wearing of face coverings and signing of a waiver will be required for entry.
Gallery Hours
By appointment only
Gallery Information
1227 North Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90038
T 323 461 3311
Parking in rear off of North Citrus Ave