I’m not going to pretend like I know half of whatever or whoever Llyn Foulkes is about, I’m just going to take a minute to honor his incredible presence in the art world for over 50 years.
What makes Foulkes so special is that he creates art at his own pace, and he creates it how he wants to, whether it’s music or painting. This “early master of Pop” is revered not necessarily because he’s a household name like Andy Warhol– but because of his journey in the art world and his ability to stay strong in his own truth and sense of character, despite social or monetary pressures.
I would go on, but I think Foulkes explains it best when he sings:
I didn’t start playing music until I was 11 years old when I first heard Spike Jones and because I was a kid I did cartoons, I used to copy things out of the comic books. I wanted to be a cartoonist. So the first music I heard was Spike Jones and his horns and bells — novelty music, right? So I started to get turned on to that.
That evolved into jazz…
Then I gave up all my music when I was just about seventeen,
Started looking at all the art books, things I’d never seen.
It really turned me upside-down,
I went to every museum in town,
I said ‘that’s just what I want to be,
I wanna go down in history,
I want everyone to think I’m special,
I want everyone to think I’m cool.
I wanna be a famous artist.
So I went to art school.
Well I sure learned a lot at art school — how to promote art.
A lot of the students at art school wanted to be famous, too.
Started to copy the art books and follow everything that was new. A lot of us started to be consistent,
Throw away our hearts,
To promote the tradition of art. Well, I left art school, had a show at the Ferus Gallery.
They said it was the best in town.
Then they really let me down.They wanted me to be consistent,
Throw away my heart,
They wanted me to be non-resistant;
To promote the history of art. And I didn’t go to their parties,
Painted at home instead,
So they kicked me out of the gallery And that’s when I got ahead
You see, I didn’t go to their parties,
I didn’t go to their parties,
And I joined another gallery.
Critics though my paintings were tough
I got in all the art magazines,
Museums started to buy my stuff.
Well they made me the belle of the ball,
I could do no wrong at all,
I won the Paris Biennale,
I thought that I would never fall.
But I never got a chance to look at myself,
Just put my problems on the shelf.
I had an image to live up to,
And I believed all the hullabaloo.
Started doing’ something different,
Critics didn’t like that very much.
They wanted me to do the same old thing,
They thought I was out to lunch.