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It’s not an apartment, but rather a collection of small rooms tucked under the roof of an apartment building in London’s Parliament Hill area—just large enough for the bathtub to fit in the kitchen. Next to the tub stands a small table with a sketchbook, a quill, ink, and scissors. It’s the year 1963. #klausvoormann has moved from Hamburg to London, in the wake of the Beatles. He had become friends with John, Paul, George, and Ringo when they were all in Hamburg.
Three years later, Voormann, a gifted bass player and highly talented graphic designer, is lying in the tub after a long night, as the water starts to cool. The Beatles have become world-famous stars and see their old friend Klaus only rarely. When the phone rings, Voormann doesn’t know it could very well be the most important call of his life. His girlfriend Christine hands him the receiver and says, “John somebody wants to talk with you.” Voormann picks it up and asks, “John who?”And so legends are born
“John somebody” doesn’t waste any time. “It’s me, you silly bastard!” The voice, and the rough tone of affection, could only come from Lennon. He has a question. “Would you have an idea for the cover of our new album? You know, the cover for this band that no one knows, and especially not our old friend Klaus.” Voormann thinks for a minute. Yes, he has an idea. And what an idea it is.Voormann designed the legendary cover of the Beatles’ Revolver album
This phone call will ultimately lead not only to a Beatles album that radically breaks with the past, but also to an album cover that rewrites #design history. Revolver will also give visual form to a new kind of pop culture.A love of music and a gift for graphic design
Klaus Voormann, the son of a doctor, left his native Berlin for Hamburg shortly before his twentieth birthday to study graphic #design. He brought his first passion—a love of music—along with him. Piano lessons, followed by intensive study of classical guitar, laid the foundation for a significant musical career. His interest in jazz and musicians such as Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins led him to the saxophone.
At the same time, his gift for graphic #design turned out to be a good way to earn money. At the young age of twenty, he designed an entire series of covers for a major Hamburg record label. This talent would ultimately result in more than a hundred album covers—with Revolver as the highlight, an iconic piece of #design. But Voormann is also well known for his musical contributions to solo albums by Ringo Starr and George Harrison, as well as his drawings on covers for the Bee Gees and Gary Wright.A combination of music and visual arts
Voormann’s career is unusual in its combination of music and visual arts. The ability to #design record covers has little or nothing to do with a talent for music. Voormann himself was probably unaware of his musical gift for some time—until he started playing bass in the early 1960s in London, where a musical revolution was under way. And Voormann could play. “Thanks to the training on the Spanish guitar, I was quite good,” he says, which is saying a lot given his reserved manner. In early 1966 he joined Manfred Mann’s band, which produced a number of hits over the next several years.
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