Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Musical Portraits of Philip Burke

Carlos Santana, Rolling Stone, 1979

Philip Burke is another of those artists whose images are more commonly known than his name. Whether you’ve heard of Burke or not, you’ve probably seen his his wildly exaggerated portraits of rock stars, splashed with lurid colors and jumping out at you from the pages of popular magazines with expressionistic abandon.

His work has been on the covers and interior pages of publications like Time, Newsweek, The New Yorker, Vogue, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, TV Guide, Fortune and, of course, Rolling Stone, where he was the featured artist for several years. You’ll find a major section devoted to his work in the collection Rolling Stone: The Illustrated Portraits.

He has received awards and notice from the Society of Illustrators, the Society of Publication Design and the Society of Newspaper Design.

Burke’s portraits cover a range of public figures from entertainment, sports and politics, but his real love seems to be those in the music culture, from James Brown to the Beatles to David Byrne to Miles Davis to Carlos Santana (above).

Mick Jagger, Rolling Stone, 1995

Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stone, 2003

Burke does more than take the usual caricaturist’s license with the shape and placement of his subject’s features. Though his portraits can sometimes be less exaggerated, they are often wildly sculpted into outrageous forms, giving a real push to the psychological implications that you can read into some of them.

His colors are also “pushed”; brilliant contrasting hues seem to fight amongst themselves for dominance in their attempts to define the forms, each pulling their own way but somehow working together in the final image to snap into the clear focus of of the portrait. Remarkable.

Kurt Cobain, Rolling Stone, 2004


Thanks to Dale Stephanos for a link to this post from Stephen Kroninger’s blog in which he posts a wealth of early work from Philip Burke.

The Rolling Stones (The Daily News)
This was from a series published in the centerfold of the comics section.
Each week a different rock star and a different illustrator.

An 2007 interview by Discovery World:

Finally, a rare sitter for a Burke portrait:

Andy Warhol, 1982

1 comment:

  1. RE: The earlier David Levine comments (2): David was great...but sometimes, too much cross-hatching?