Published by Cantz

Paperback £21.95
1993 ISBN 3-9801320-2-1
Hardback Limited Edition (1500) with CD £32.50
1993 ISBN 3-9801320-3-X
Deluxe Slip Cased Limited Edition (120) with original etching £180.00

136 pages with 70 colour plates


  • Don van Vliet in Bielefeld: Andreas Beaugrand
  • Animals and Black Ladies: Karsten Ohrt
  • Don van Vliet – The Painting: Jessica Rutherford
  • “Stand Up To Be Discontinued”. On Don van Vliet as Painter and Musician: Paolo Bianchi
  • Pearls before Swine. Ice Cream for Crow. On the Relationship between Music and Painting in Captain Beefheart’s Work: Luca Ferrari
  • Captain Beefheart: Diedrich Diedrichsen
  • Don van Vliet: Roberto Ohrt
  • Fur Don van Vliet: A.R.Penck
  • Sketch for a Poem for Don van Vliet 8/93: A.R.Penck
  • Don van Vliet Biography/Exhibitions
  • Bibliography/Literature
  • List of Illustrations
  • Don van Vliet Poetry Reading Sequence

Overview by Steve Froy

If you’re interested in Don’s artwork then this is the book to get (if you can lay your hands on a copy that is!) A high quality artefact, beautifully designed, printed and packaged. There are 70 stunning colour plates … okay, they’re not the same as seeing the original painting but it’s the next best thing. Apparently, it did get Don’s approval although he had some reservations about certain essays that are included.

Published to coincide with the wonderful travelling exhibition of the same name there are also a number of articles about Don’s art from the curators of the various galleries that staged the exhibition. These are a fascinating read, attempting to put Don within the context of 20th Century Art they’re inclined to often disappear up their own profundity. This is done in both English and German.

The one disappointment in the book is a poem, or rather, a piece of self-indulgent crap written by A.R. Penck called ‘Fur Don Van Vliet’ which is basically the same ten line verse repeated too many times with a few variations and takes up 8 pages when a good editor could have made a decent one page poem out of it, – what a waste of paper.!

Although this book concentrates on Don the painter, and despite attempts to shed the rock musician background to gain acceptance in the ‘Art World’, some concessions have been made to include articles about his alter ego, Captain Beefheart. This takes the form of (photo)copies of articles from musical papers such as Melody Maker, Sounds and New York Rocker.

There is also a list of other exhibitions of Don’s artwork plus a bibliography that, although not comprehensive, included a number of obscure items not previously known about.

The hardback edition came with a CD single, within a plastic sleeve securely fitted to the inside back cover, containing six poems – Fallin’ Ditch, The Tired Plain, Skeleton Makes Good, Safe Sex Drill, Tulip, Gil – read by Don himself. This was an extra exciting prospect as next to nothing had been recorded by Don for a decade. But, like many others, when I heard it I couldn’t believe how ill Don sounded, it was seriously depressing at the time.

I have never seen a copy of the very limited deluxe edition but I understand there were two different etchings used, i.e. 60 of each (I think).

Pretty much essential!!

Here’s one of the prints … showing Don’s now shaky signature:


If anyone has copies of this book left it would be the Michael Werner Gallery, although they are only likely to have the very expensive limited edition. Copies have turned up on ebay over the past few years. Another good source to check out is Abe Books.

If this situation changes, or you know of anywhere selling this book, please let me know.


  1. Kate Goodell says:

    I bought a brand new copy of this a couple years ago for my boyfriend but we broke up before Christmas and it’s been sitting, unopened and untouched since. If you are interested, please email me.

    • Nadeem says:

      Hi Kate,

      I would be interested in the book. Please email me with more info about how I could purchase it from you.



  2. ANDREW says:


    i own 2 copies of this book from my brighton days (i’m in paris currently)

    both are in great condition, both have the original cd unplayed. i’m happy to let one go

    if you are still looking, feel free to get in touch.


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