Duran Duran's 'Beautiful Colors' in Posters
By Crispin Kott 6 June 2014
Above from the collection of Andrew Golub.
There are fans, there are FANS, and there is Andrew Golub. In the world of the Duran Duran fan – Duranies to devotees – Golub is known as Durandy. It’s a pithy moniker, one which falls short of his importance not only to the greater story of Duran Duran, but also to the even greater story of fandom.
Golub is a collector. That’s true of so many of us who are enthusiasts of one pursuit or another, but when you’re thinking of yourself as a collector, you’re still off the mark. Golub is a collector’s collector, an archivist, a curator of one of the most impressive collections of posters and ads, books and magazines, pinups and memorabilia not only of Duran Duran, but of any artist.
Golub’s meticulously catalogued archives are kept in a climate-controlled storage facility, and often when a print or poster is in less than mint condition, he has it professionally mended, with the same care one might see given a great renaissance-era tapestry. When Duranies visit the Seattle area, Golub generously gives them entry to the archives, letting their eyes fix on one lush image after another.
Of course, not everyone can make it to Pacific Northwest, and even if they could there’s only so much time in the day. For the rest of us, much of Golub’s archives are stored online at Durandy.com, where we can click from lush image to image to our heart’s content.
But there is also Beautiful Colors: The Posters of Duran Duran, a book which should not only be considered an essential purchase by Duranies the world over, but should also serve as inspiration for anyone else trying something like this in the future.
Beautiful Colors – named after a widely circulated unreleased song from the band’s mid-2000’s reunion, “Beautiful Colours” – is a weighty tome, independently released by Durandy Productions, but with the high end quality one might expect to have found at the recently shuttered Rizzoli flagship store on W. 57th Street in Manhattan. It’s a coffee table book in that one might want to have it on display, but it’s also assuredly a book to be pored over from cover to cover, in large part a credit to the archival photography by Christine Born.
Adding to the prestige of Beautiful Colors is a foreword by Duran Duran’s dandyish co-founder and keyboardist Nick Rhodes, a man whom one imagines has had a key perspective in how the band has been presented over the years. That obviously goes beyond the makeup and immaculately tailored clothes, and the flashy reputation-securing videos. There’s also album and single sleeve art to consider, and with that the associated promotional materials advertising the music, live appearances, and, of course, videos.
One of the most iconic images of the ‘80s is the album cover of Duran Duran’s 1982 sophomore full-length, Rio, which marries an illustration by Patrick Nagel and design by Malcolm Garrett. Visually, it was everything the music it was mean to represent was: Sleek, streamlined, sexy. Naturally, it provided inspiration for everything Duran Duran did at the time, with not only the album’s singles taking up the thread, but also promotional posters around the world for the music and its subsequent tours.
A six-date Canadian tour for July 1982 curiously utilizes only the font and maroon color on its poster, but a return to Toronto a month later sees the album’s smiling woman hovering above a contemporary photo of the band. In Germany, posters hyping live appearances that same year used only the woman’s eyes, as though she’s peering through the slot in the door at a speakeasy. It’s interesting to see how different places around the globe made use of the source materials, and thankfully Golub’s collection is so vast that we’re able to take that journey over oceans and across time with the simple turn of a page.
There are eras where the design doesn’t hold up in the same classic way as it does from their early ‘80s rise, but it’s also where the unified artistic vision was often ignored in various markets. While the band’s eponymous 1993 album – referred to among fans as “The Wedding Album” for its use of family wedding portraits on its sleeve – was a surprise commercial success, posters advertising live shows everywhere from Barcelona to Hamburg to Sacramento could not only have been about any band, but are so uncharacteristically nondescript that they might as well been about a furniture sale where EVERYTHING MUST GO. It’s to Golub’s credit that he doesn’t stick with the bold and the beautiful, though there’s plenty of that to be found, instead opting for an honest representation of the band’s long visual history.
The first temptation will be to flip through page after page, soaking up the familiar and foreign, marveling at Golub’s commitment to his collection. One might even look to see how many shows they’ve seen are represented in poster form (I did – Eight!) But then it’s worth taking the time to really look through the book, to soak up Golub’s well-crafted narrative. Begin, logically, at the beginning, before Duran Duran even had a record deal, when they were playing gigs around Birmingham, and then on tour with Hazel O’Connor.
Rock posters aren’t exactly an underappreciated art form, with books like The Art of Rock and websites like Gig Posters giving the medium its due. But there are few books like Beautiful Colors, which dedicates an entire collection to that of a single artist.