TURNBULL TALKS: HUBERT KRETZSCHMAR
As part of his exhibition in The Turnbull Gallery space in New York, we spoke with German-born artist Hubert Kretzschmar, known predominately for his critically acclaimed album artwork for iconic rock, pop and electronic albums from bands such as The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Iggy Pop and Kraftwerk. From Thursday 14th April, the exhibition will highlight the artwork and processes behind his commissioned albums for the Rolling Stones between 1977 and 1987, including such titles as Some Girls, Tattoo You and Undercover. We discussed his key influences, the importance of collaborations and his opinion on the future of NFTs.
Turnbull: What are your earliest memories of craft, art, and design? And did you always know you wanted to pursue a creative career?
Hubert: As a second or third grader in school, a Russian prisoner of war who lived with my grandmother showed me with a blunt pencil how to draw a profile of a female head, which I thought was like a magic trick. It left a profound impression. In grade school, my teacher caught me making an elaborate drawing and announced to the class, "we have an artist among us". Whilst growing up, people would make remarks that "he will become an artist". So in a way, I had already been cast as one.
How did you develop your creative style?
Starting as a graphic design apprentice, I had an incredible mentor who handed me his best skillset. I also had another exceptional mentor in photography before I started studying visual communication at Folkwang University. They were huge influences. As a child, I grew up with American toys and comic books that would later feed my mind as a student with curated material from New Yorker publishers.
Hubert's Tattoo You works, at The Turnbull Gallery.
On the album cover Tattoo You, you worked with Christian Piper and Peter Corriston, what do you think are the positives and negatives of collaborating on creative work?
In the case of Tattoo You, the creative collaboration was mainly between Christian and me. Collaborators usually complement one another; or bring something exceptional to the table – it’s about creating something special. As far as the negatives go, sometimes, when egos become inflated, people can feel entitled to more credit than they might be due. That’s where things can get screwed up. One solution is to give that person a Grammy, which usually keeps them quiet.
What are some of the main influences on your work?
There are a few! Egyptian art, Bauhaus, Dada, German Expressionism, Art Deco, Cubism, Surrealism, Op art, children's drawings, Constructivism, Conceptual art, Minimalism, Neo-Classicism, Abstract Expressionism, Art Brut, Outsider Art, De Stijl, graffiti, magic, high and lowbrow catalogues, and Richard Wagner.
What is one of your favourite album artwork of all time?
It’s hard to single out just one, but some favourites are: Ansley Dunbar - To Mom From Ansley And The Boys. Velvet Underground & Nico - s/t (with Andy Warhol’s Banana). Led Zeppelin - House Of The Holy. Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon.
Do you think modern technology has changed the way creatives now practise?
Having been a computer art pioneer myself, I would say definitely yes, even though the digital revolution also has had its downsides. As society has become more integrated with computers, the creative processes have become widely available, and our understanding and appreciation of what makes certain things precious have gotten lost.
As a pioneer of creative processes, are you excited by the digital space of NFTs?
I haven't seen anything (yet) that I would consider exceptional. A lot of it seems to be commercial hype and get rich schemes. Yawn!
What is in the diary for Hubert Kretzschmar going forward?
Last year, I ended up in the ER with pneumonia and was in an ICU-induced coma for six weeks. I learned that when most of the senses are shut down, the ears still pick up the noise in the environment, and the brain tries to create a narrative, which can be a lot like a surreal play or movie. I plan to do something with that experience. I am also working with my archive and my legacy at the moment. I will be in a few upcoming art shows and fairs that are ramping up as we get out from under our collective Covid-19 paralysis. I've taught art to young children off and on over the last ten years, which I find very satisfying. I find that I learn as much as the kids. And it’s about enabling the next generation... Paying it forward, I believe it is called.
And finally, art is…?
Either decorative, commercial or fine.
THE ROLLING STONES ARTWORK OF HUBERT KRETZSCHMAR
Taking place in The Turnbull Gallery New York, artistic and cultural curators Boo-hooray are exhibiting the incredible work of artist Hubert Kretzschmar. From Thursday 14th April, the exhibition will explore his commissioned album artwork for the Rolling Stones between 1977 and 1987, including such titles as Some Girls, Tattoo You and Undercover.