Bowie’s Last Supper

Following the “Retirement Gig” on 3 July 1973, Bowie and a handful of friends held a small post-concert party at the Inn On the Park.

The next evening (4th July 1973) Bowie’s retirement party (now known as “The Last Supper”) was held at one of London’s most expensive restaurants – the Café Royal in Regent Street, following frantic last minute calls from MainMan inviting guests to the impromptu party. Word soon spread and large crowds gathered in the streets to watch the celebrities (usually arriving in Rolls Royce’s and Bentley’s) enter the restaurant.

The guest list of those who attended was a virtual Who’s Who of top music and film celebrities in London at the time and included: Paul McCartney and his wife Linda, Keith Moon, Lulu, Tony Curtis, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, The Goodies, Cat Stevens, Ringo and Maureen Starr, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Jeff Beck, Lou Reed, Barbra Streisand (she was in London to film a TV special), Ryan O’Neil, Sonny Bono, Elliot Gould, Britt Ekland, Spike Milligan, Hywel Bennet, D.A. Pennebaker and Dr John who supplied the live music for the evening.

The gathering was also a great opportunity for Bowie to celebrate his fame and new friendships with fellow musical heavyweights such as Mick Jagger. But according to biographer Jerry Hopkins (1985) Bowie had reason to be anxious about Mick Jagger’s attendance. Reportedly Jagger had threatened Bowie because he believed that Bowie had put the “make” on his wife Bianca earlier that week. Hopkins even reports that Bowie had wanted to cancel the show because of Jagger’s threats. However, all was made up at the party and Bowie danced with Jagger and briefly kissed both Jagger and Lou Reed when asked to by Mick Rock who was photographing the event.

 
 

Photos by Mick Rock

 
 

“This was at the Cafe Royal in London after the final Ziggy gig at Hammersmith. Lou Reed and Mick Jagger, who’s behind us, came down. I’m not actually kissing him. If you study it, I’m talking into his ear and he’s talking into mine. I’m quite a way over. But it was near enough to a kiss for the press and they all printed it. We were supposed to have been kissing at that time anyway so there was the evidence. No, I think Lou Reed is the last person in the world I’d want to kiss.” – David Bowie (1993)

Not to be outdone Angie Bowie and Bianca Jagger were also seen dancing and embracing that night.

“The Cafe Royal party the next night was a great success, with David at the very top of his form; he was pure charm and gentle friendliness, open and happy and gay. And I must say, I had a wonderful time too. The mood was light, the glitter dazzling, the night bright and beautiful with stars and success and serendipity”. – Angie Bowie (1993)

 
 

Bowie’s Last Supper as illustrated by Mike Allred (Red Rocket 7 issue 4, November 1997)

Advertisements

Spread Love Around the World

Robert Indiana on coach with Andy Warhol in Warhol’s studio, Vogue, March 1965. Photo: Bruce Davidson

 
 

At the helm of the Pop art movement were Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana. The two artists exhibited work together at the same gallery and even posed together holding their cats in a Vogue photo spread. Indiana has been a theatrical set and costume designer, such as the 1976 production by the Santa Fe Opera of Virgil Thomson’s The Mother of Us All, based on the life of suffragist Susan B. Anthony. He was the star of Andy Warhol‘s film Eat (1964), which is a 45-minute film of Indiana eating a mushroom in his SoHo loft. But while Indiana embraced Pop, the movement didn’t suit him in many ways. He wasn’t interested in the personality cults or media attention that swirled around Warhol, and Indiana shied away from the sex, drugs, and fame.

 
 

 
 

Indiana first public commission—a 20-ft.-tall, light-studded “EAT” sign for the 1964 New York World’s Fair—referenced his mother’s years working in roadside diners, as well as her last words to him, “Did you have something to eat?” But the flashing EAT sign so resembled familiar cafe signage that people flocked to it, assuming it was a restaurant. It wasn’t the last time Indiana’s work would become simultaneously popular and misunderstood.

 
 

Book of Love Poems, printed in 1996

 
 

Robert Indiana’s experiment with LOVE started in 1958, when he began playing with poetry, placing the letters “LO” above “VE.” He translated the idea into paintings, and in 1965, he hit pay dirt when the Museum of Modern Art commissioned him to do a version of LOVE for a Christmas card. His simple composition of vibrant red letters against a green and blue background became one of the museum’s most popular items.

The first serigraph/silk screen of Love was printed as part of an exhibition poster for Stable Gallery in 1966. A few examples of the rare image, in bold blue and green with a red bottom announcing “Stable May 66” are known to exist. Twenty-five of these, without the red announcement, were signed and dated on the reverse by Indiana. Sculptural versions of the image have been installed at numerous American and international locations. In 1977 he created a Hebrew version with the four letter word Ahava (אהבה “love” in Hebrew) using COR-TEN steel, for the Israel Museum Art Garden in Jerusalem, Israel.

 
 

In time for the holidays, the O of the famous love sculpture by Robert Indiana was lowered. November 29, 1971.

 
 

Although it wasn’t a critical success, LOVE was so popular with the general public that NBC televised the exhibition. In an era of love-ins and peace protests, the image struck a nerve with the spirit of the 1960s. Hippies were all about love, and for the next decade, so was Robert Indiana.

As Indiana’s LOVE spread, his name didn’t. “Everybody knows my LOVE,” he told an interviewer in 1976, “but they don’t have the slightest idea what I look like. I’m practically anonymous.” Because Indiana hadn’t wanted to disrupt his initial design with his signature or a copyright notice, he had no legal protection against imitators. He also enjoyed little financial gain as his image was ripped off in countless ways. One company sold a line of cheap cast aluminum LOVE paperweights in bookstores on college campuses; another offered LOVE and HATE cufflinks. As the number of parodies increased, Indiana eventually copyrighted some variants of his creation. But by that time, it was too late to file suit against the flood of false LOVEs on the market.

Indiana’s best known image is the word love in upper-case letters, arranged in a square with a tilted letter O. The iconography first appeared in a series of poems originally written in 1958, in which Indiana stacked LO and VE on top of one another. Then in a painting with the words “Love is God”.

LOVE is an iconic Pop Art image by American artist Robert Indiana. It consists of the letters LO over the letters VE; the O is canted sideways so that its oblong negative space creates a line leading to the V. Its original rendering in sculpture was made in 1970 and is displayed in Indiana at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The material is COR-TEN steel Indiana’s LOVE design has since been reproduced in a variety of formats for rendering in displays around the world. Versions of the sculpture now exist in Hebrew, Chinese, Italian and Spanish as well as the original English.

MoMA historian Deborah Wye describes Indiana’s image as “full of erotic, religious, autobiographical, and political underpinnings” that make it “both accessible and complex in meaning. Megan Wilde offered more detail about the autobiographical origins in an article for Mental Floss magazine, “The word love was connected to [the artist’s] childhood experiences attending a Christian Science church, where the only decoration was the wall inscription God is Love. The colors were an homage to his father, who worked at a Phillips 66 gas station during the Depression.” She quotes Robert Indiana as describing the original colors as “the red and green of that sign against the blue Hoosier sky.”

 
 

Rage_Against_The_Machine-Renegades-Frontal

oasis she is love

 
 

The image has been rendered and parodied in countless forms. The original book cover for Erich Segal‘s novel Love Story alluded to the design, and the TV series Bridget Loves Bernie included a shot of the Sixth Avenue sculpture in its opening credits. The United States Post Office issued an eight-cent stamp in 1973 featuring the image. Parodies of the image appeared on covers of records by Rage Against the Machine (Renegades), Oasis (Little by Little single) and Acen (75 Minutes). Evan Greenfield’s sculpture “I’m Lovin’ It” alludes to Indiana’s image.

The first serigraph/silk screen of Love was printed as part of an exhibition poster for Stable Gallery in 1966. A few examples of the rare image, in bold blue and green with a red bottom announcing “Stable May 66” are known to exist. Twenty-five of these, without the red announcement, were signed and dated on the reverse by Indiana. Sculptural versions of the image have been installed at numerous American and international locations. In 1977 he created a Hebrew version with the four letter word Ahava (אהבה “love” in Hebrew) using COR-TEN steel, for the Israel Museum Art Garden in Jerusalem, Israel.

 
 

In 1995, Indiana created a “Heliotherapy Love” series of 300 silk screen prints signed and numbered by the artist, which surrounds the iconic love image in a bright yellow border. These prints are the largest official printed version of the Love image.