Guy Peellaert was a Belgian artist, painter, illustrator, comic strip artist and photographer.
Peellaert was probably most famous for his album covers for rock artists. He designed the album cover for Ėtienne Daho’s Pour nos vies martiennes.
He also designed the album cover for The Rolling Stones’ It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll.
However, his most famous album cover design is probably David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs.
The album cover of David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs immediately met with controversy. The cover art features Bowie as a striking half-man, half-dog grotesque and was controversial simply because the full painting clearly showed the hybrid’s genitals. The genitals were quickly airbrushed out for the 1974 LP’s gatefold sleeve, although the original artwork (and the inner cover artwork that featured Bowie in a hat holding onto a ravenous dog) has been included in CD re-issues.
Guy Peellaert also designed some quite striking film posters.
He designed two posters for Wim Wenders films: Paris, Texas…
… and Wings of Desire.
He also designed the poster for Robert Bresson’s L’argent…
… and for Robert Altman’s Short Cuts.
However, his most famous, most iconic film poster design is probably the one he created for Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.
Peellaert made his debut as a theatre decorator and as a comic strip artist. His style was influenced by psychedelic art and Pop Art. He painted using a very photo-realistic style that favoured pastel.
His first comic strip, Les Aventures de Jodelle, was published in 1966. The protagonist, Jodelle, was modelled after the singer Sylvie Vartan.
Peellart’s second comic strip heroine, Pravda, made her debut in 1968 and was modelled after the singer Françoise Hardy.
The Brussels-born artist was one of the first artists to embrace the Pop Art movement that began in the late 1950s. His work has featured in major exhibitions in various cities across the world. He provided the surreal pictures for Nik Cohn’s book Rock Dreams, which was a fantasy tribute to the greats of rock and roll music. Rock Dreams has sold over a million copies.
Guy Peellaert was a major European artist. He died on Monday, November 17th, 2008 in Paris aged 74. He had been ill for some time with cancer.
In Memory of Guy Peelaert (April 6, 1934 – November 17, 2008)
Copyright © R J Dent (2009)
Revised version 2016