cover image Paul McCartney Paintings

Paul McCartney Paintings

Paul McCartney. Bulfinch Press, $50 (148pp) ISBN 978-0-8212-2673-5

Yes, it's him, and no, they're not bad. In 1982, after years spent as a collector and in the company of artists, McCartney began painting his first canvases, inspired (as he notes repeatedly in the various interviews here), primarily by the late Willem de Kooning, who lived down the road from him at the time. The paintings he produced then and since--selected here in 117 color illustrations and 17 duotone photos--readily show the late de Kooning's influence: lush color washes, careful blocking of the canvas, airy abstraction. The problem is that none of McCartney's paintings in this style approach his models in terms of brush work, or significance. Inane titles and commentary on the work do not help matters. McCartney and interlocutor Wolfgang Suttner, a culture bureaucrat in the German county of Siegen-Wittgenstein, have the following exchange over Big Mountain Face, which furnishes the book's cover: Suttner: ""It is the McCartney style, it is drainage. I think we talked about this picture being like the face in the mountain."" McCartney: ""Yes, like Mount Rushmore, the monumental faces of American presidents. It's as if someone has carved this great big face on the side of the mountain."" A loose assortment of little-known art journalists with varying degrees of separation from McCartney (one was ""supported by McCartney"" in a gallery endeavor and is a former editor of the Beatles' literary imprint, Zapple), provide further insights into works like Boxer lips, Sea God, Mr. Kipps; Brains on Fire and Bowie Spewing (McCartney: ""Which means being sick""). But the paintings are pleasant to look at, at times evoking Philip Guston (White Dream) and '80s landscape artist Christian Brechneff, and fans will be happy to see their man has a hobby at which he excels. (Sept.)