July 15, 2010
Following yesterday’s thread about Robert Brownjohn’s conceptual-art-style stationery for Michael Cooper, Painter, Bobby Gill has suggested that Michael Cooper was so unaccomplished, that having had Brownjohn design his stationery was, perhaps, his only accomplishment.
“It was very much the style then to have a witty letterhead. Brownjohn designed one for this guy Michael Cooper, who was somebody who hung around, but he didn’t have much personality. The only thing this guy had done was to ask Brownjohn to design his stationery.”
(via: Robert Brownjohn sex and typography: 1925-1970, Life and Work)
Smells like hyperbole, right? Well, I thought so, and a little research shows that, in fact, Cooper’s life and accomplishments, when compared to Brownjohn’s, match up in a lot of ways.
1. They both designed album covers for the Rolling Stones.
Cooper photographed and art directed the cover (the first 3D album cover ever) for “Their Satanic Majesties Request.” (above, left)
Michael Cooper was in charge of the whole thing, under his leadership. It was handicrafts day… you make Saturn, and I'll make the rings… People always ask, Are John and George in there? … They are all in there. And Paul and Ringo… we had to put a stop to it. We were getting the whole of Sergeant Pepper in there, just for the hell of it. It was getting late and Michael finally got Saturn suspended… It was really funny… we should have done a gig that night.
Keith Richards, 1971 (via: Time Is On Our Side)
(Regarding “Satanic Majesties” see also: Tony Meeuwissen)
Brownjohn designed the album cover for “Let it Bleed.” (above, right)—(Photography by Don McAllester; Cake by Delia Smith)
2. They both had smoking habits (also heroin)
They both were smokers. In yesterday’s post we showed photos of Brownjohn and Cooper, as young men. Details from those photos, above, show them each with a cigarette in hand. See also: Brownjohn’s design for a Bachelor’s brand cigarette pack. (Note: we have an ongoing interest in photos of celebrity smokers. See: George Arents Jr. and Bridget Riley’s Rolling Papers)
Robert “Bj” Brownjohn had already made a name for himself as a designer
in 1950s New York when he arrived in London in 1960. He claimed that he
came over for the city’s creative energy. His girlfriend, the
super-chic fashion designer Kiki Byrne, remembers it differently. “You
could get heroin on the National Health back then,” says Byrne. “And Bj
did have a problem.”
Via: Matt’s Morgue
Cooper has been described as “A heroin addict whose worsening condition confined him to a wheelchair.”
(More similarities, after the fold…)
3. They both had one child each and their wives left them
Brownjohn married Donna Walters in 1956 and their daughter Eliza was born. Donna left him in 1962, moving to Ibiza with Eliza. (Later his girlfriend was fashion designer, Kiki Byrne, whom he does not marry.)
1963 Cooper married a model from Vogue—(It’s unclear as to her name—could it actually be “Rose”?)—and their son Adam was born. Adam’s mother soon left them both and Cooper apparently raised Adam as a single father—with the help of girlfriend, “Ginger”—(Felicity Meredith-Owens)—whom he does not marry. (See: Photo of young Adam with the Beatles)
4. They both died young
Robert Brownjohn died in London of a heart attack in 1970. He was 44.
Michael Cooper died in 1973 at the age of 31. Some newspapers reported his death as a heroin overdose, but others—(including his son, Adam)—say it was a suicide.
After spending time with his girlfriend, Felicity Meredith-Owen, in her family home in order to kick his heroin habit, he had a period of a relatively straight and productive existence however in 1973 Michael committed suicide by taking some Mandrax (a sedative drug that was often used as a recreational drug, also known as Quaaludes) and topping it off with Scotch.
from bio on Snap Galleries
5. Posthumous Postage Stamps
They both had album covers that they worked on commemorated as postage stamps. (after they died)
Cooper had done the photography for the Beatle’s Sgt. Pepper’s cover—(art directed by Robert Fraser; designed by pop artists, Peter Blake & Jann Haworth)—and this album cover was featured on one of the “Beatles Stamps” designed in 2007 by Michael Johnson.
Brownjohn’s “Let It Bleed” cover was part of the Royal Mail’s 2010 Design Classics set of postage stamps released just this year.
6. In each case, their only child plays a key role in facilitating exhibitions and publishing books about their work
Eliza Brownjohn’s collection (and recollections) of her father’s work produced a book written by Emily King (Robert Brownjohn sex and typography: 1925-1970, Life and Work) and an exhibition at the Design Museum.
Adam Cooper, who must have been around 10 years old when his father killed himself, now lives in Buenos Aires. His father left him 70,000 negatives and a letter, discussing the will: “In it I am putting everything I own and have, my work mostly," he wrote, "and this will eventually be worth something, I'm sure.” Adam Cooper has put out a limited edition book of photographs from his father’s archive, entitled: “Blinds & Shutters, The Story of the Sixties” and has helped facilitate exhibitions such as the 2003 retrospective exhibition at the Atlas Gallery, coordinated the the book’s release.
Beach Packaging Design