15 décembre 2008 1 15 /12 /décembre /2008 08:20


Russ Meyer 1922 - 2004


Il naît le 21 mars 1922 à San Leandro, près d'Oakland, en Californie d'un père policier et d'une mère infirmière. Lydia, sa mère, d'origine allemande l'éleve seule. En 1936, à l'occasion de ses 14 ans, elle lui offre une caméra Univex 8 mm et commence très jeune à tourner des films amateurs, pour remporter ses premiers prix dès l'âge de 15 ans. Mais la puberté et l'adolescence arrivent bientôt et avec elles leur lot d'émois, de frustration et de fantasmes. A l'époque, Russ Meyer, plutôt timide avec les filles et pas vraiment en avance sexuellement, lit assidûment les bandes-dessinées de Al Capp, les « Lil' Abner Stories » qui racontent les aventures d'un mâle, stupide et musclé et de sa sculpturale épouse, Daisy Mae. À la fin de son adolescence, Russ Meyer commence à fréquenter assidûment les shows « burlesques ». Ce sont ses premiers « émois personnels ». Spectacle gentiment érotique mêlant musique, danse, sketches et strip-tease, le « show burlesque » détourne avec humour le folklore de la pin-up.


En 1942, il est incorporé dans une unité des actualités hebdomadaires filmées de l'US Army. Sa compagnie est bientôt placée sous le commandement du général Patton. Russ Meyer accoste sur les côtes françaises à Omaha Beach en Normandie, le 6 juillet 1944 et filme le débarquement de la IIIe armée américaine. En août 1944, il va connaître sa première expérience sexuelle grâce à Ernest Hemingway qui l'emmène dans une maison close de Rambouillet où, à 22 ans, il se fait dépuceler. Affecté à la 2e division blindée du général Leclerc, il entre dans Paris le 25 août 1944. Certaines de ses prises de vue seront utilisées 25 ans plus tard dans le film Patton de Franklin J. Schaffner. Après la libération de la capitale française, il fonce vers l'Est avec l'armée de Patton, participe à la Bataille des Ardennes, pénètre en Allemagne en février 1945 où il photographie les camps de concentration avant d'atteindre la Tchécoslovaquie.


Démobilisé, Russ Meyer revient chez lui à Oakland le 14 décembre 1945. En 1946, il réussit à entrer dans une société de productions de films industriels. Parallèlement, Meyer approfondit ses connaissances du « show burlesque ». Il prend alors des photos d'une jeune femme, Eve, qui devient bientôt son modèle favori puis sa petite amie et enfin sa femme. En 1955, deux ans après la création du magazine Playboy, la Playmate du mois de juin est une certaine Eve Meyer photographiée par son mari.

Après un court documentaire intitulé The French peep show, réalisé en 1950, il entame une carrière de cinéaste marginal et se distingue dès sa première œuvre de fiction, The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959), film muet de 63 minutes en couleurs, sorte de « Les Vacances de monsieur Hulot perverti ». Russ Meyer vient d'inventer un genre nouveau, le « nudie ». Le film rapportera plus d'un million de dollars soit 40 fois son coût de production. Russ Meyer tourne dans les trois ans qui suivent 4 nudies.

Grâce au million de dollars de recettes engendré par ce long métrage, il finance lui-même ses réalisations suivantes. Avec Le Désir dans les tripes (1965) et Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, il impose son propre style : l'exploration d'une sexualité rurale à travers des intrigues rudimentaires mais pimentées de violence et servies par des héroïnes à la poitrine démesurée.


À la fin des années 1960, Russ Meyer se trouve à la croisée des chemins. D'un côté, les films pornographiques commencent à faire leur apparition dans certains sex-shops de San Francisco. De l'autre, la nudité est devenue habituelle dans les films classiques. Refusant d'entrer dans le monde du X mais incapable d'engager des stars pour ses films à petit budget, Russ Meyer contre-attaque avec Vixen. C'est avec ce film qu'il va connaître ses plus grave démêlées avec la justice. Ce film va lui rapporter 15 millions de dollars US pour un budget de 72 000 $, mais va surtout lui ouvrir enfin les portes d'un grand studio d'Hollywood. Il met en scène pour la Fox La Vallée des plaisirs (1970), l'histoire d'un groupe de rockeuses (The Carrie Nations) prêtes à tout pour réussir à Hollywood, film qui connaît un beau succès puis The Seven minutes (1971), un drame interprété par John Carradine sur le procès d'un écrivain accusé de pornographie, mais ce film va être un véritable bide.


Commence alors une traversée du désert qui va durer trois ans. Puis Russ Meyer renoue avec son univers de nymphomanes vengeresses à travers les « kitchissimes » Supervixens (1975), MegaVixens (1976) et Ultravixens (1979). Avec sa façon folle de délirer, le cinéma n'est qu'une mise à sac des clichés de la série B hollywoodienne, une sorte de soulagement.


A la fin des années 1970, Russ Meyer travaille au script d'un film avec les Sex Pistols et Marianne Faithfull, Who Killed Bambi?, qui après huit versions de scénario, vois le tournage commencer en octobre 1977 en Angleterre, mais sera interrompu au bout de trois jours pour des raisons obscures.

Dans les années 1980, il délaisse la caméra pour la plume, écrivant notamment son autobiographie (A clean breast). En 1999 il fait reparler de lui en portant plainte contre sa compagne, Debra Angela Masson, pour violence conjugale. Il meurt chez lui, à Hollywood Hills, des suites d'une pneumonie et atteint de la maladie d'Alzheimer.

                                                                        

 
       

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Published by D.Vicente - dans Art
14 décembre 2008 7 14 /12 /décembre /2008 20:27





Robert CrumbFor four decades, Robert Crumb has shocked, entertained, titillated and challenged the imaginations (and the inhibitions) of comics fans the world over. In truth, alternative comics as we know them today might never have come about without R. Crumb’s influence — the acknowledged “Father” of the underground comics could also be considered the “Grandfather” of alternative comics.

Crumb’s earliest cartoons were inspired more by the work of Carl Barks and Walt Kelly than the superhero comics enjoying their first wave of popularity at the time of Crumb’s childhood in the late ’40s. The man who once admitted to being “sexually aroused by Bugs Bunny” at the age of 5 began honing his skills drawing his own versions of “funny animal” comics with his brothers, Max and Charles. These early efforts included the first incarnation of Fritz the Cat — after whom, years later, the concept of “funny animals” would never be the same.

In his teens, Crumb came to realize the incompatibility between the values espoused by his parents’ generation (and most of his peers) and his own. His admitted inability to “fit in” would enable him to develop the ability to question concepts such as conformity, normalcy — and sexuality. Meanwhile, his taste in sex objects graduated from Bugs Bunny to Sheena of the Jungle and “playing footsie” with female classmates ... who would remain unattainable for the young Robert throughout his high school years.

After graduating from high school, Crumb moved to Cleveland, where he was hired by American Greetings, his first exposure to “corporate” life. As a greeting card artist, he was instructed to render his drawing as harmlessly “cute” as possible — something that would spill over into his later underground work, but with startling results. At this time, he met, and soon after, married, “the first girl (he) could get along with,” Dana Morgan.

Although to all outward appearances, Crumb seemed well and truly integrated into the “normal” existence that he had shunned as a teenager, he became more disillusioned with “the system” and the general dreariness of the 9-to-5 life. This began to change with Crumb’s introduction to LSD in the mid-’60s. In Crumb’s words, the psychedelic experience was “...indescribable, but afterward, you no longer feel a member of this accepted version of reality.” Apparently, the version of reality Crumb had begrudgingly accepted until this point suddenly became unacceptable, as in January of 1967, after talking with some friends in a Cleveland bar, he decided to drop everything — literally — and join them on their journey to San Francisco.

The “Summer of Love” did seem to live up to its much-romanticized reputation for R. Crumb — at least for a while. The gentle anarchy of Haight-Ashbury combined with his experiments with hallucinogens caused Crumb’s talent to blossom in ways not even he could have imagined. With his inhibitions not so much relaxed as demolished, Crumb felt himself free to create the cartoon universe that would redefine the art of comics forever.

Robert CrumbIn the years 1967-1971, odd little magazines that certainly looked like the average, normal, all-American comic book began to appear in the kind of shops frequented by denizens of the “counterculture.” With ZAP Comics #1, the underground comic book was officially born. It would be followed by titles like Despair, Big Ass, Motor City Comics and Mr. Natural, and Robert Crumb would be, for the first time in his life, “accepted.” In truth, not only accepted, but downright hip.

Crumb’s cartoons became hip in their own right — Mr. Natural, Angelfood McSpade, Flakey Foont, and most especially, the hedonistic anthropomorphic version of Crumb’s childhood pet, Fritz (a cat), would become cult icons. Fritz, however, would fall into the clutches of animator Ralph Bakshi, who had virtually steamrolled over Crumb to secure the film rights to Fritz the Cat — which became a box office hit, but Crumb was so repelled by the film that he decided to assassinate Fritz in The People’s Comics soon after.


Further disillusionment would come in the wake of popularity of the phrase “Keep On Truckin.” Birthed in the pages of ZAP, “K.O.T.” proliferated, adorning everything from bumper stickers to T-shirts to buttons, etc., etc ... it was the perfect commodity for a culture with a taste for catch phrases. It would prove a litigious nightmare for Crumb, as attorney Albert Morse took it upon himself to file 18 copyright infringement actions on Crumb’s behalf over the “ownership” of three words. “Keep On Truckin” was judged to be Public Domain, and will very probably, as Crumb says, “...follow me to the grave.”
Crumb’s growing disillusionment would be further exacerbated by a $20,000 bill from the IRS for back taxes (the debt would eventually be paid, through contributions and the selling of publishing rights to Germany). One bright spot, however, would be Crumb’s meeting cartoonist Aline Kominsky, whom he would marry in 1978.

Crumb would later refer to the ’70s as his “lost decade,” but some of his most memorable work was produced at that time, particularly in the magazine Arcade, edited by fellow underground veterans Bill Griffith (Zippy the Pinhead), and Art Spiegelman (Maus).

Crumb’s work at this time reflected the disenchantment and confusion felt by most who had “survived” the ’60s. His voluptuous, acid-inspired romps gave way to comparatively sober, introspective dialogues and biting indictments of American culture. Interestingly, Crumb insists he was just “floundering around” at this time. He would not feel his work was “back on track” until the birth of Weirdo, a magazine partly inspired by Arcade and partly by the work of the “new wave” of cartoonists, many of whom had been inspired by Crumb’s work, such as Peter Bagge (who would take over editorship with issue #10). Weirdo was considered an alternative even to the “alternative” at the time (the often “precious” RAW) and reaction to Crumb’s brainchild ranged from virulently negative to positive ... with reservations. Still, Weirdo gave artists such as Bagge, Dori Seda, Kaz, and Doug Allen their first “big breaks.”
Crumb’s feelings of disgust with American culture and values, which seems to have grown with the rise of ’80s neo-conservatism, precipitated his move to rural Southern France. He continues to reside there with wife Aline Kominsky-Crumb, and they raised their cartoonist daughter Sophie there until she moved out on her own. The details of his daily life there are revealed in Fantagraphics Books’ Self-Loathing Comics #2, released in 1997. A resurgence of interest in Crumb’s work resulted from Terry Zwigoff’s critically acclaimed documentary Crumb. Now, with international gallery showings and massive media coverage at the release of The R. Crumb Handbook, Fantagraphics’ 17th volume of The Complete Crumb Comics and Crumb Sketchbook Vol. 10, there is a rising awareness of Crumb in popular culture. Your Vigor for Life Appalls Me — a collection of Crumb’s personal letters spanning the late 1950s through the late ’70s, and offering a rare glimpse into the influences and experiences that shaped Crumb’s artistic development through his most formative years — is available from Fantagraphics as well.


www.fantagraphics.com
Texte : Fantagraphics book
illustration : Robert Crumb

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Published by D.Vicente - dans Art
14 décembre 2008 7 14 /12 /décembre /2008 20:17




Robert WilliamsRobert Williams is one of the most lauded and controversial American painters of the 20th century. After a childhood steeped in EC comics and stock car culture, Williams braved the mean streets of Albuquerque before moving to L.A. to pursue an education in fine art. Williams went to work in the mid-’60s for the legendary Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, achieving great success in Southern California’s custom car culture, his edgy art adorning hot rods, motorcycles, advertisements and T-shirts.

In the late ’60s, Williams segued into the Underground Comix movement by submitting his work to Robert Crumb and becoming one of the founding ZAP artists. From there, Williams forged a highly unusual career, transcending the constraints of both high and low art by cultivating his mastery of oil paints; he emerged as the preeminent artist among a generation of imagist painters, gathering inspiration from the shadowed corners of contemporary culture.

"There is no way now that I can convey the excitement and the thrill of when those first underground comics came out, when there was nothing but overground comics until us outlaws came into the picture, whippin' out this no stops pornography... Anything we could think of we would do. The energy and power was unbelievable, we thought we were all going to jail, that we were bordering on sedition." – Robert Williams

"He's the finest mechanic I know of, including Picasso and Rembrandt and all of those guys... I think he's a gentleman in his personal life, but when he draws, he draws like a kook." – Ed "Big Daddy" Roth

"Seeing what Robert Williams and S. Clay Wilson had done [in underground comix] just gave me the last little push I needed to let open the floodgates." – R. Crumb



www.fantagraphics.com

Text : Fantagraphics book
Photo : Robert Williams

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Published by D.Vicente - dans Art