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Paul McCartney: Paintings [Hardcover]

Sir Paul McCartney
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 Sep 2000
Having distinguished himself as highly as Sir Paul McCartney has, as a songwriter and performer, it's a brave move for him to share his paintings and art with the world. Though it was Lennon who was art-school trained, it was McCartney who engaged the most with the art-related side of the Beatles and the sleeves of the Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road albums where both based on his sketched ideas. Through myriad influences and many personal contacts with well-known artists (including Andy Warhol, Willem De Kooning and Peter Blake) Sir Paul has gradually evolved his own very personal style. It is largely expressionistic, often abstract, owing more to de Kooning than to the British pop artist and he brings to his painting the same humour, enthusiasm and enjoyment that is present in his music. They both stem from the same deep urge to create which has so far led him to compose classical pieces for full orchestra, to write poetry, direct films, design his own house and write and perform what is generally regarded to be the most successful popular music in history.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (14 Sep 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316854530
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316854535
  • Product Dimensions: 26.6 x 32.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 865,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

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 catalogue 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" which connects both endeavours. Fittingly, his paintings draw most of their influence from abstract expressionism where 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 colours 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. Within the interview is an unusually generous section where McCartney discusses individually 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 colour illustrations, and 17 duotone photographs. --J.P. Cohen

Review

full of life and colour. (THE TIMES)

If you really want to learn more about the obvious complexity of McCartney's creativity, take a look at his paintings. (RECORD COLLECTOR)

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 catalogue 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" which connects both endeavours. Fittingly, his paintings draw most of their influence from abstract expressionism where 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 colours 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. Within the interview is an unusually generous section where McCartney discusses individually 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 colour illustrations, and 17 duotone photographs. (- J.P. Cohen, AMAZON.CO.UK)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you enjoy 20th century painting at all... 11 Oct 2000
Format:Hardcover
I'm going to be bold and say that if you enjoy 20th century paintimg at all, you will want this book. Among other things, seeing McCartney's paintings made me realize that I had only thought I didn't like abstractions--because I had seen so many bad ones. There are at least two (you may find several more) splendid abstractions in this book. I'd like to own prints of "Red abstract white moon," and "Mr. Magritte's ruler." By the time McCartney started painting, at 40, he understood the creative process well enough to make a smooth transition from composing music to composing paint. If you cannot stand much of anything painted after the Impressionists, you will want to look at the book before even considering buying it. But even for those who want something that they can recognize in a painting, there's much to recognize and enjoy in these canvases--there is a series of "portraits" that are so full of life that you feel you'd like to know more about the subjects, even though they exist only as types. The colors are vibrant, the painting is superbly confident, and I find some of the images as haunting as the artist's music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An insight into Pauls paintings 2 Oct 2000
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
The book is well set out with a mixture of interviews and paintings. Paul describes some of the paintings and how they came about. One painting, "Johns Room", came about almost by accident. A must for Macca fans - not too sure about anyone else
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Long And Winding Road 9 May 2001
Format:Hardcover
McCartneys paintings are bold and primitive; although their sytle could be descibed as naive by so-called experts, they have an immediate effect; He simply yet deftly evokes feelings on many levels. I feel that at the moment Paul is constricting himself as a visual artist, as many people do when first entering into a new medium (I know that Paul has been painting for many years now, but his work is on a level with earliest Beatles work) Is it just me, or does Paul still believe in the Art House snobbery of the last generation? I think Paul could go on to do great things, but he needs to throw off the old guard restrictions. If he can get to the point where he truly paints what he feels, and not just a watered down version of his ideas, he could be a very good artsist.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Luigi Will Be Most Satisfied 26 Sep 2000
By "m1974" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Paul McCartney only cautiously agreed to publish this book of paintings, fearing, quite rightly, he would be categorized as just a 'celebrity painter' - the Stallone and Curtis kind. "I know I'll be getting a few snide comments for doing this book - it seems that if you approach the art world by one route, that's OK, but if you've come via another route, then it invites prejudice. In fact [...], one 'critic' wrote that I 'shouldn't be allowed to do this.'"
The simple, almost child-like honesty with which McCartney comments on this crossing into a different field, manifests itself in his paintings: they carry schoolboy-naughty titles like 'The Queen After Her First Cigarette' and 'Bowie Spitting', often display bright, simple colors, and have the kind of surprised pleasantness - for example "Ancient Connections" - which is often associated with children.
That said, his work is actually pretty good. Its diversity (there are abstract paintings, figurative paintings, portraits, surrealist ones) is a plus, as is the execution, which reveals McCartney has a keen eye for colors and shapes (composition and detail, i.e. the more technical side of painting, are of lesser interest to McCartney, who said: 'I like the primitive approach, so if I learn to sail I don't take sailing lessons: I get into a boat and capsize a lot. It's actually very much my philosophy and it works equally well in painting and in music.')
For people who are unaware, it should be pointed out that McCartney was a key figure in sixties' London, not only in the music field but also in the underground movement, doing collages, experimental music (long before Lennon), and drawings for the International Times paper and Indica Gallery, as well as collecting Magrittes and befriending Willem De Kooning. Also, he was the brain behind such legendary covers as "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band" (1967) and "Abbey Road" (1969).
Some of the paintings in this book remind of the ones featured in the "Standing Stone" CD booklet, which he'd done to illustrate the story of that 1997 classical piece. Big, three-dimensional (it's as if they're made out of shiny plastic) figures with soft, often sandy yellow, pastel colors. In paintings like "Unspoken Words", "Ancient Connections" and "Yellow Celt" (all featured in this book) McCartney effectively uses this style. They are the best ones in his catalogue.
In a way, his paintings - bright, simple, enjoyable, shapely - are the equivalent of his musical work. His approach is best summed up by himself: "In my mind I have a friend who is Luigi. Luigi owns a restaurant and he's got an alcove, and he always needs a painting for it. So whatever I'm doing, if I ever get that terrifying moment I say: 'It's for Luigi's alcove, Luigi will like this.' And he just lets me off - it frees my head for two seconds and then I'm over the hurdle and I can carry on. Luigi's alcove is one of my huge saviours."
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unpretentious Art! 4 May 2001
By Martyn Etherington - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Regardless of the high brow reviews of this book, I chose to purchase this book to see if this was another celebrity who found art and realized their celebrity could sell their art. Bottom line I had hoped that McCartney's personality would triuumph and his down to earth philoposphy would come through. Indeed it did and this is the first Unpretentious book on Art I have ever read. If anyone has the desire to paint, draw or create but is held back through social conditioninig this book is for you. McCartney albeit through interviews and ghost writers tells how he himself freed himself from his own perfectionist procrastination mode and at the age of 40 painted. What resulted I found to be liberating in the way that in his celebrity circle of friedns he learned from William De Kooning how to "kill the canvas" and get over the fear of standing in front of a blank canvas. Additionaly McCartney goes onto explain his creative process for his paintings again influenced by De Kooning. He discussed how he would write a friends name on a canvas or a sketch or just a smudge of paint and see what stimulated his creative enery to produce and be led by creativity instead of coming to the easle prepared with a pre-conceived idea. McCartney never pretends to be a De Kooning or indeed a high brow artist. He comes across as someone who enjoys the process and output that art offers. Through his own conditioning he is also seeking the feedback for his efforts, regardless of the technicalities I for one see his work as inspirational and has encouraged me to go and "kill the canvas" myself.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dripping with color 12 July 2001
By C. Fletcher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
It's a joy to flip through this book of wildly inventive faces and colorful dreamscapes. There is a freedom and a vibrance to McCartney's paintings, that, like his music, can't help but draw you in and infect you with a buoyant kind of wonder.
These paintings tear at the boundaries of what you think can and can't be done. They're appealing and yet completely unpredictable. In short, they are paintings from the same imagination that came up with both "I Will" and "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?" and then had the not-so-common-sense to put them back-to-back on the same record.
McCartney is obviously setting the artist inside free with these bold, bright canvases. Whether this is great art, that is really a question that each pair of eyes must answer in its own way, in its own unique language.
I for one am glad that McCartney has chosen to make his paintings public. I find these colorful canvases, and the artisitic courage that propelled them into being, quite inspiring.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very cool thing. 12 Dec 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is not expressly about McCartney's art as it is about the creative process. Many of these paintings are reminiscent in some ways of outsider art (art brut). Much of it is primitive/naive art, but all of it provokes (at least for me) a great deal of joy. Paging through it, I found myself laughing out loud at the silly characters -- Shock Head, Green Head, etc -- that reveal a glimpse into the soul of one of this centuries more creative people. I live in New York and see a lot of art (some extraordinary, much of it quite bad). But in the last year alone, I have been privileged to see works by Egon Schiele, Sue Coe, Edward Gorey,and Lucian Freud, to name but a few. I would hardly call McCartney a master, but he is competent and he's much fun. To the reviewer who dismissed McCartney's art out-of-hand, citing that it was John who was the art student: art (true art) is not about precision or literal interpretation. Quite the contrary. It's about freedom. Breaking out of the box. It's other worldly. McCartney's stuff, on that level, succeeds.
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the awful purity of color, and a whole lot more 11 Nov 2000
By C. Cleveland - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I finally got over my block about not understanding modern painting by deciding that if it said something to me, attracted me in some way, then it didn't matter if I had read the explanatory treatise or not. At least two thirds of these paintings speak to me. The paintings will take you immediately out of the territory of the realistic, and sometimes beyond the land of representation. There are a number of pictures of faces, although they should probably not be called portraits (except the one of Linda McCartney)--they are pictures of types of people, or studies of emotion in color and line. Boxer lips, Scratch man, and several other face pictures are powerful, even disturbing to some people. There are three near-abstractions of beach landscapes that communicate the heat, the lassitude, and the mesmerizing colors of being at the beach wonderfully. There are two pure abstract paintings here, Red abstract, white moon, and Mr. Magritte's ruler, that are as good as any abstract I have seen or hope to see--the artist has temporarily *become* a color, found its root, and celebrated its awful purity. There is, as you would expect, a lot of humor in some of the paintings, and a lot of pure play: with the paint, with chance strokes that become people (David Bowie, Andy Warhol, John Lennon), and with stylistic tricks recovered from the ancient Celts. It is a large visual world, and an intense one, that McCartney gives us. If all you know about the artist is "Yesterday", you will probably be surprised; if you know Standing Stone, you won't be surprised at all. If you like serious painting by serious painters, you will thank Willem deKooning for befriending this artist when he was a nervous beginner. He's a confident painter now, and a very interesting one.
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