It was pretty obvious once The White Stripes became a secret that neither Detroit nor the American underground in general could hold any longer, that they had something unique and special. Leader Jack White, handling a red plastic airline guitar from the 60s, seemed especially touched by genius. On top of “sister” (actually his ex-wife) Megsimple, hammered drums, it unleashed a torrent of fuzz and well-crafted original songs such as “Fall in love with a girl” and “Army of Seven Countries“which restored the glory of the 60s garage punk to the Billboard Hot 100. These best-selling records, which he produced, also re-established the links between Led Zeppelinthe stadium shakes rock and the blues. They made the former Detroit upholsterer and his former wife famous and very, very wealthy.
Twenty years and 25 days from the date of the groundbreaking album White blood cells has been released, a new website has been launched. Jack White Art & Design, which went live on July 28, highlights previously unknown dimensions of his work. Even a quick exploration of the riches the site presents should fuel a questioning of White’s identity: Now consider White as an “interdisciplinary artist,” as the site calls him. Music and songwriting are just two of his mediums, the only ones he has chosen to show us so far.
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Or have they been? White has always given us glimpses. He designed the covers for every album he released, dating back to The White Stripes. The website has a selection of flyers he made to promote their early shows, quickly made in Xerox and Letraset. All of them are graphically interesting. So think about the first White Stripes articles you read after “Hotel Yorba. “
He often spoke about how he based the band and all of their aesthetics on number three. Jack and Meg dressed in three colors: red, white and black. All their equipment was in these colors. Album covers and singles covers too. He said he based the song’s writing on three elements: melody, rhythm and narration. Then there was the band itself, focused on their vocals, guitar, and Meg’s drums. He has often commented on how much he enjoys making himself a governor, just to see how creative he can get under those constraints. He called it “the liberation of limiting oneself”.
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Now consider the title of White Stripes second album, From Stijl. It was named after an early 20th century Dutch movement in art and architecture, nicknamed for the indigenous term “the style”. And this style was reductive: pure abstraction and universality via strict adherence to color and form, sticking to vertical and horizontal, using only black, white, and primary colors.
Does this sound familiar to you?
One of the main driving forces behind De Stijl, architect and furniture designer Gerrit Rietveld, is one of the personalities highlighted at Jack White Art & Design’s “InfluencesAlongside American Modernist industrial designers Henry Dreyfuss and George Nelson, and pulp / comic book magazine cover painter Norman Saunders. We’re starting to notice the clean lines and harsh, modern, and heavily industrial look of everything White touches, from the 45 sleeves to the interiors of his various. Third man operations, just by looking at the work of these influences.
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This album cover saw Jack and Meg dressed in white, standing in a De Stijl-ist environment of red, white and black rectangles. The back cover features the Peppermint Triple Tremolo, a stand-alone mechanical guitar effect built from three Leslie rotating speakers that White designed and built himself. A window features an oversized star peppermint mounted on one of the rotating speaker baffles. The unit is presented in the “Instruments and materialsAlongside various custom guitars and effects pedals he designed.
“To work with Jack White, to watch him work on anything … is to witness the spirit of an artist as he explores and solves problems,” writes his nephew Ben Blackwell in a statement in the “About” section. Blackwell has been White’s right hand in all of his endeavors, dating back to the founding of Third Man Upholstery in 1996.
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“The beauty of the construction, the construction of the goal,” the website announces when the homepage loads. It is easy to see this saying in action, as you browse the different sections of the website. You see above all its active aesthetics in “Industrial” and “InteriorsWhich primarily involves White’s various Third Man business ventures – Detroit’s Pioneer Building upholstery store at 2679 E. Grand Blvd. who named all the other parts of his empire, the recording / photo / mastering studios, the pressing factory, the various record stores. There are even previously unseen photos of Third Man Records’ two headquarters in Detroit and Nashville, all bearing his unique design stamp. Blackwell writes that his uncle’s brainstorming process can be “both inspiring and exasperating.”
“There’s no reason a building needs acoustic tiles, tin ceilings, or shiny yellow floors,” Blackwell continues. ” But this is not the question. The goal is to do something beautiful. He adds that White’s goal is to “take an empty space, imagine what you would like it to look like, not just visually, but spatially, textually, experientially and design in that vision, doing and taking the occasional left turns, keeping architects and contractors on their toes and people like me, who have to find the right way to say, “No Jack, I don’t think a fog machine would be a good idea for the pressing plant. “
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“And then hear him explain it, with a viewing window, the audience looking in, spotlights tight on every record press, calling out the beauty and cinematic quality he wants to show off in this situation … most of the time I find myself saying, ‘When you say it that way, it sounds pretty impressive.’ ”
There is a selection of upholstery work from White, including his refurbishment of a sofa owned by Sun Records owner Sam phillips which was commissioned by the family of the rock’n’roll recording pioneer. Almost all of them are mid-century modern designs, reupholstered in three different bright colors, squares and rectangles incorporated into the revamps.
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The “SculptureThe area highlights fully functional pieces such as a pair of whimsically designed dog kennels built for friends and an industrial cooling unit built in 1997 dubbed the ‘Machine Gun Fan’ which he continues to use in the upholstery store he still maintains at his Nashville residence.
“Vinyl concepts”Focuses on various unusual record releases from Third Man Records, including LPs filled with liquid; three-deck records featuring 12 inch clear vinyl records containing 10 inches inside, a standard seven inch inside; and records with playable grooves on labels.
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“Instruments & Hardware” showcases various guitars and effects pedals he has built for his countless musical projects, including a Gretsch with a brass top and brass hardware and a triple function digital octave pedal with telegraphic keys for triggers. “Film and production”Brings together promotional videos he made for Dead Weather, as well as various industrial-style films made for various Third Man companies. By the time you reach “Photography“, With White’s Polaroid Experiment Series and Digital Photos, you start to think,” Sure, he’s taking pictures! What does not he does?”
It’s a lot to assimilate. One could spend hours basking in the visual delights inherent in Jack White Art & Design, dazzled by the cohesive vision and cohesive aesthetic he applies to everything he touches. It is now evident that he has conceived all his life. Every aspect of its existence is an art form.
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It goes into his music: all his bands until the last – The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, time out, even his solo work – is a complete package, right down to the graphic design, the instrumentation, the clothes all musicians wear, even the clothes worn by the road crew. Everything he touches is another way of working, including all of his businesses, the buildings they are housed in, the environments inside, to the uniforms his employees wear. White’s life is a work of art. Now we can all appreciate the breadth and depth of online work.