Captain Beefheart was a music legend; now he’s Don Van Vliet, genius of paint. `You can physically drown in paint, you can mentally drown in music,’ declares Don Van Vliet, pronouncing one of his less obscure aphorisms. Cult rocker turned successful painter (but still better known to the world as Captain Beefheart) Van Vliet can claim intimate knowledge of both mediums. While a devoted public continues to mourn his absence from the music scene, which he abandoned in 1982, Van Vliet’s status as a fine artist has risen steadily over the last decade. These days a canvas by the Captain will set you back betweenRead More →

The Collected Paintings of Don Van Vliet, the once (and future?) Captian Beefheart A reporter from New York Rocker once asked poet, painter and composer Don Van Vliet – better known to many as the influential enigma of electrified clamor, Captain Beefheart – how he produced his scrawling, free-form saxophone solos. “I just paint through it,” came the Captain’s bristly, elusive reply. The first full-scale reminder of Van Vliet’s existence since his musical retirement in 1982, Stand Up to Be Discontinued (Cantz/136 pages/$40, $60 with special edition CD) further expresses that unkempt synaesthesia. Smeary and blurt-like, these jagged panels of frenzied eye music – seenRead More →

It was music, in retrospect, that was particularly befitting of the 1960s, the decade to which it was born. Like the time, it was young and ambitious and overpoweringly energetic. And it was without precedent; absolutely nothing that had come before sounded quite like it. It sent many a music critic running to a dictionary in search of adjectives with which to denounce it. Trivial, nonsensical, primitive and atonal were some of the kinder ones they chose. At the same time, the music saddled Don Van Vliet with an obsessive band of fans who believed that his alter ego, Captain Beefheart, was an oracle whoRead More →

Don Van Vliet at Fred Hoffman Gallery Fans from Don Van Vliet’s (a.k.a. Captain Beefheart’s) rock ‘n’ roll past will no doubt be curious to see what kind of paintings and drawings have resulted from Van Vliet’s last few years of working in these media. Given Captain Beefheart’s zany antics and his usually enigmatic, eclectic and sometimes provocative music, there could be no telling what he might come up with unless you hazarded a guess based on the cover art he has produced for his albums. Van Vliet still composes music, but painting and drawing capture his attention now and have since 1982, the yearRead More →

After having followed Don Van Vliet’s work for sometime, it is now appropriate to salute the artist on his arrival as a significant force in the arena of picture making. What initially drew me to his work and what I continue to find compelling, is the artist’s intense personal exploration of the deeper, non-material realms of individual and collective consciousness. How rare such a vision is in today’s world. Don Van Vliet’s art separates itself from the conditions guiding today’s art world in which too many of today’s creators are aligned with the world of communication, promotion and distribution. The content of their art makingRead More →

Once known as avant-garde musician Captain Beefheart, Don Van Vliet has quickly won the art world’s attention as a painter The art world tends to regard popular entertainers with a peculiar mix of infatuation and disdain. Though artists, musicians and movie people amiably rub elbows on the cocktail-party circuit, artists bare their teeth when actors or any of that ilk seek legitimacy as practicing visual artists. Maybe it’s jealousy or territorialism, or maybe they figure the commitment required to create good art makes it impossible to simultaneously maintain a second career. There are, however, occasional exceptions to what we’ll describe here as the Red SkeltonRead More →

Today Captain Beefheart aims to make the canvas sing Captain Beefheart, iconoclastic musical inventor of the ’60s and ’70s, is alive and well – in a sense. He’s going by his real name these days, Don Van Vliet, and he’s not making music anymore. He’s painting. Although the last LP by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band was “Ice Cream for Crow” in 1982, Van Vliet insists that “I am making music-on canvas.” Beefheart’s reputation as one of the most original figures in modern “popular” music culminated in his classic 1969 album, “Trout Mask Replica,” which was voted No. 33 on the top 100 mostRead More →

Writing about music is like dancing about architecture – Frank Zappa Indeed, and I would suspect that Frank Zappa might have similar opinions on the subject of writing about paintings, at least those of his long-time protege Don Van Vliet (more popualarly known by his stage name of Captain Beefheart). Seven of Van Vliet’s recent oil-on-linen efforts are currently at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as part of the ongoing series of small-scale exhibitions titled New Work. Now you might ask, “Why is the museum devoting exhibition space to the essentially naive paintings of a man whose primary metier is a peculiar kindRead More →

Living on a cliff overlooking the Pacific since the early eighties amid the redwood forests and wildlife, Don Van Vliet has embraced painting with the same controlled passion that made him, as the avant-garde rock composer and performer Captain Beefheart, a cult figure of conspicuous influence and one of the genuine musical geniuses of the past twenty years. Self-trained as a painter and knowing relatively little about the history of art or the current scene, he is a modernist primitive but also an artist whose remarkable intuitive gifts and love of nature have combined to create highly charged paintings that are at once jolting asRead More →

Last year Captain Beefheart, one of the few musicians left on earth who doesn’t just deserve the label unique but actually embodies uniqueness, made his first public appearance as a painter with an exhibition at Michael Werner. A great deal of pressure from friends and admirers, among them A.R. Penck and Julian Schnabel, had finally produced a small show of the artist’s work, an exhibition to be regarded more as an event for admirers and fans than as the first one man show by an aspiring artist. Because, after all, Don van Vliet is not an aspiring artist, but an elderly man who has madeRead More →

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART invading Cork Street, discreet and dangerously expensive centre of London’s gallery world? But yes. The Captain’s news is that Don Van Vliet’s paintings will be on show at dealers Leslie Waddington from April 3 to 26, with the artist himself coming in to town for the show. He’s without a current recording contract, but a variety of his best work is still available, repackaged for renewed consumption. Over in the reissued corner are the LPs Safe As Milk, Unconditionally Guaranteed, Blue Jeans And Moonbeams, Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller), Doc At The Radar Station and Ice Cream For Crow. And undeleted, undefeated, are Trout Mask Replica, Clear Spot, Lick My Decals Off Baby and TheRead More →

Ahm gonna tell you the story of how I came to meet Don Van Vliet. Well, to be honest, I stood in front of him, yes, but whether that qualifies as a “meeting” I’m not sure. In May 1985 about 30 galleries in Cologne were having exhibitions of new artists or new work of old artists. I don´t keep my eye on this stuff, and it was purely accidental when I saw his name in the advert for this gallery-event all over town. I was on my way home from school – Jesus, this is so long ago! I called the gallery, asking whether theRead More →

The inside image from the rather beautiful exhibition invitation. [simple_box] Paintings from the Eighties was a solo exhibition which ran from 12th July – 8th September 2001 Presented at: Michael Werner Gallery 4 East 77 New York [/simple_box] View the paintings featured at this exhibition. The exhibition also include “A Bride for Wallah” (1986, oil on canvas, 83.75 x 48 inches) which we don’t have a copy of. Can you help? Front of the exhibition invitation. Many thanks to Brainpang for very kindly sending this along.Read More →

The front of the exhibition’s promotional postcard featuring “Bat Day in the Night”, 1993. [simple_box] The Lowe Gallery\’s 2001 exhibition was a solo exhibition which ran from 7th – 20th January 2001 Presented at: The Lowe Gallery 75 Bennett Street, Space A-2, Atlanta, Georgia, 30309 [/simple_box] Exhibition features: A few items relating to the 2001 DVV exhibition at The Lowe Gallery: The Lowe Gallery’s online catalogue for the exhibition. Information from the Lowe Gallery’s exhibition postcard. Listing from the arts page of 8th January 2001’s Creative Loafing.Read More →

As unlikely as it may once have seemed, Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) has a one man show of his recent paintings at the Knoedler & Company gallery on New York’s fashionable upper eastside. The show opened on November 11, 1998 (Veterans Day, for those that still believe in cosmic coincidence… see Capt. Beefheart’s tune-veterans day poppy) and will run until December 5, 1998. The 27 works date from 1993 through (as recently as) October 1998, with the majority being done in the last two years. The exhibition can be broken down as follows: 12 large oil on canvas 4 smaller oil on canvasRead More →

Don Van Vliet Knoedler & Company 19 East 70th Street Through Dec. 5 Known in an earlier incarnation as the rock musician Captain Beefheart, Don Van Vliet left the music world in the late 1970s to concentrate on painting. Self-taught, he works in a primitive style, deploying crude animal and more abstract shapes in black and various colours on snowy white grounds. For a rock musician, he knows how to keep his decibels down, using white space like musical rests. In his best work, the shapes establish lyrical relationships that make for catchy compositions. In “Dreams in the Daytime Colored With Sunshine” (1995-96), a black,Read More →

Living on a cliff overlooking the Pacific since the early eighties amid the redwood forests and wildlife, Don Van Vliet has embraced painting with the same controlled passion that made him, as the avant-garde rock composer and performer Captain Beefheart, a cult figure of conspicuous influence and one of the genuine musical geniuses of the past twenty years. Self-trained as a painter and knowing relatively little about the history of art or the current scene, he is a modernist primitive but also an artist whose remarkable intuitive gifts and love of nature have combined to create highly charged paintings that are at once jolting asRead More →