23 February 2010

Michael Cooper. Blinds & Shutters (1990)

Michael Cooper. BLINDS & SHUTTERS. Genesis/ Hedley, Guildfrord, 1990.

Current Selling Prices
$350-$3000 /£500-£2000

A desirable photobook, from cool limited edition publisher Genesis, of the work of beautiful person and rock photographer Michael Cooper. Like all rock snappers - Mick Rock, Keith Morris, Chalkie Davis, Dominique Tarlé etc.,- he is beneath the Martin Parr radar but that doesn't stop the book changing hands at sizeable prices. Cooper is probably best known for shooting the cover of Sergeant Pepper and also the Stones drug addled response Satanic Majesty's Request. He had the dubious honour (healthwise) of being Keith Richard's closest friend and was with Jagger, Richard, Robert Fraser, Marianne Faithfull and Christopher Gibbs at the famous Redlands Bust. So opiated was the environment he moved in that it is amazing his pictures are in focus. He was also at the Stones French exile residence Villa Nelcote in 1973 but sadly was one of those troubadours who got killed before they reached Bombay-- he overdosed that year (some reports say suicide.)

Getting close to the Stones appears to have been a perilous business, some of Coopers photographs show whole gatherings of young groovers who are now long dead, exquisites, dandies, flower children--all broken butterflies and moths to fame --extending the lepidoptera metaphor George Melly called Cooper a "dragonfly that darted and hovered across these careless years." His photo below demonstrates the casualty rate- of this bunch only the indestructible Anita Pallenberg is still with us- from left you have Brian Jones, Nicki Browne, Bill Willis, Talitha Getty, John Paul Getty II and Anita all tripping on acid near Luggalor - a Gothic castle in the Wicklow mountains home of Tara Browne ('he blew his mind out in a car...').

Blinds and Shutters is one of the finest and most valuable of Genesis publications. More valuable are their editions du tete, the lavish de luxe productions some limited to 100 copies. The most famous are the two signed George Harrison books Fifty Years Adrift (1984) and I, Me, Mine (1980) both of which can sell at over £2000. Equally desirable, talking of broken butterflies, is the more recent Mick Rock volume of photos of Syd Barrett 'Psychedelic Renegades' the de luxe of which was fully subscribed form the get-go; amazingly it is signed by the madcap himself. Copies on Ebay signed by Syd can make £2500 [to be continued with a monumental list of all the signers of Blinds and Shutters--all copies are signed by Bill Wyman and eleven other 60s scenemakers and none of the 5000 are the same--the most valuable copies have the rarest signatures, its a minefield...] Below Cooper shoots Beaton snapping Keith by a pool in Marrakech, man.

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