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John Lurie! One of the coolest dudes on the planet!





Here’s a short Bio plucked from John’s forthcoming album:

John Lurie first became known for his work in the late ’70s leading the band The Lounge Lizards, which went on to make music for 20 years. During this time, Lurie recorded 22 albums and composed scores for over 20 movies, including Stranger than Paradise, Down by Law, Mystery Train, Clay Pigeons, Animal Factory and Get Shorty, which earned him a Grammy nomination.

Lurie also starred in three films directed by Jim Jarmusch, as well as a host of other films. He wrote, directed and starred in the aforementioned cult classic Fishing with John, which featured film director Jim Jarmusch, actor Matt Dillon, musician Tom Waits, actor Willem Dafoe and actor-director Dennis Hopper. The series is now part of The Criterion Collection. Lurie is also responsible for the incredible music of Marvin Pontiac.

Lurie emerged onto the art scene in the spring of 2004, when he had his first painting exhibition at Anton Kern Gallery. Since then Lurie’s work has been exhibited in esteemed galleries throughout the world. His solo museum exhibits include P.S.1. Contemporary Arts Center in New York, Musee Des Beaux-Arts De Montreal, the Musee d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean in Luxembourg and the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, who gave their entire museum over to the presentation of Lurie’s work. Both the Wadsorth Athenaeum in Connecticut and The Museum of Modern Art in New York have acquired his work for their permanent collections.


[The Skeleton In My Closet Has Moved Back Out To The Garden]

What John Lurie Means To Me!

Well, what can I say about John Lurie, to some of us he’s one of the coolest dudes who ever lived on this planet. He first came to my attention in a movie called “Down By Law”, one of my all time favourite movies.

There was just something about John in that movie that made me want to explore all his other work too because he had such a strong, mysterious and ultra-cool screen presence.  So I got into his music, Lounge Lizards and Marvin Pontiac, and his other movies and his brilliant “Fishing with John” series.

So I grew up with John Lurie in my life as the dude who represented the “epitome of cool”.

I came across his paintings and totally dig their appearance, weird subject matter and also the captions he uses to describe them.  To me, some of the captions are an integral part of his work and maybe just as important as the work itself.

So it really is a huge honour for me and indeed, our blog, that John agreed to a brief Q&A and here’s what transpired.

John was pretty damn cool, as per usual!


[There Is A Caveman In My Apartment Examining The Fur. I Wish He Would Leave.]

Q&A with John Lurie:


Many of us would like to think that we relate to you because we’re outsiders. For many you epitomize that “outsider” characteristic. Would that be a fair assessment of you or is it wide off the mark?

John Lurie:

I am not sure what you mean by “outsider” here.  I try to stay as close as I can to what I feel is real, ignoring whatever the popular trends are.  I am not sure what I am outside of.  I think that anyone following the trail of babble and unaware of what’s really real is actually the outsider, even if there are a lot of them.


You said that your painting “The Spirits Are Trying To Tell Me Something But It’s Really Fucking Vague” is somewhat autobiographical. Can you expand upon that?

I mean can you tell us what the spirits were/are trying to tell you, even if it’s really fucking vague?


[The Spirits Are Trying To Tell Me Something But It’s Really Fucking Vague]

John Lurie:

Well that is kind of private but mostly very difficult to explain. It does seem that for a long while there, things had gone so perfectly, inexplicably wrong that it had to mean something. But was kind of a joke because you can’t really blame the spirits, has to be the receptor that isn’t working so well.


How did you feel when your painting “Bear Surprise” went viral in Russia in 2006 as an internet meme?


[Bear Surprise]

John Lurie:

I don’t know. Some of the silly paintings are bad on purpose. That being one of them. So that it went viral was a little odd. I mostly just thought – What the fuck…?  And then I thought – There are no copyright laws in Russia?


Which of your own work is your most favourite painting or holds most significance for you and why?



John Lurie:

oh I don’t know, I probably have 20 favorites.  “Wednesday”, I guess has the most significance


[Buffalo aka Bison]


Do you have any upcoming public exhibitions? If so, where?

John Lurie:

No, nothing. Isn’t that kind of amazing?  The art world and I don’t seem to be on speaking terms.




John, you’re notorious as a bad boy but you’re still here. Even though you can’t do films and music anymore since the onset of chronic Lyme disease, you’re still being an artist, you’re painting. You’re still in the public eye, being funny and at times, bad. Don’t you think that’s ironic?

In some strange but beautiful and twisted way, you’ve become a kind of “positive” role model to people. You’re dealing with huge health issues but that hasn’t deterred your artistry. Everyday you’re battling on, still being honest and still creating beauty! You’re still an inspiration to many the world over no matter how beat up and broken you might be or feel you are.

What would you say to this, above?

John Lurie:

I don’t know, what’s a bad boy?

I am in a situation that is very isolated and not so easy for that reason. Then we get an email from Romania or Argentina saying how much the paintings mean to them and how they helped them through a really hard time.  In turn that helps me back through a really hard time.  Is pretty cool that.

I wonder if Tilda Swinton got letters like that after sleeping at MOMA.


[I Love A Man In A Unicorn]


If you could live your life all over again, is there anything you would change?

John Lurie:

I don’t think like that. At all.

When I was set on fire, a certain group of people stepped back and said, Oh that screaming is so unpleasant.

[When I was set on fire a certain group of people stepped back and said Oh that screaming is so unpleasant]


If Marvin Pontiac were still alive today, what do you think is the most important lesson he would have learned in his life and what particular advice do you think he’d be kind enough to impart to the people of the world?

John Lurie:

Watch out for buses.


[My Trip to the Country. Birds Fly Up]

you don't listen

[You Just Don’t Listen Do You]

A man planted a tree and put his head to the ground. Then the tree grew through his brain. There is no moral to this story._n

[“A man planted a tree and put his head to the ground. Then the tree grew through his brain. There is no moral to this story.]


[Monkey has ruined this painting]

Dear God_n

[Dear God,
I asked you a direct question. Just once, I would like a direct answer.
Yours truly,

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In addition to the above interview and all these beautiful paintings, it’s quite timely that I decided to do this feature as John Lurie has a new album coming out too.  Well, it’s not an album of new material as he has been unable to make music since the onset of chronic lyme disease.

Details about the album are below but for now stream this awesome track:

Billy Martin’s Amulet Records have announced the January 21, 2014 release of The Invention of Animals by The John Lurie National Orchestra. The archival compilation assembles seven previously unreleased live and out-of-print studio recordings by the acclaimed musician, actor and visual artist John Lurie leading his early 1990s’ trio with percussionists Billy Martin and G. Calvin Weston.

“The three of us got together to try and write stuff for my band The Lounge Lizards, but what happened between Billy, Calvin and I was magical. After about a year of playing live it really came together,” says John Lurie. “There is something so unique and beautiful about this music. I don’t think there is anything else like it.”

Billy Martin adds: “John and I share the idea that this is like someone discovered a field recording of a lost civilization. Some strange and beautiful tribe unlike any other known to man.”

The Invention of Animals opens with “Flutter,” one of four National Orchestra performances culled from the soundtrack of John Lurie’s 1991 television series, Fishing With John. Also drawn from that same soundtrack are “The Beast,” “Little”and ”Ignore The Giant.” The additional studio recording included here is the title track to the only official John Lurie National Orchestra album Men With Sticks released in 1993. Rounding out the collection are two previously unreleased live recordings. “I Came To Visit Here For Awhile” was preserved at the Threadwaxing Space in New York City on May 7, 1993. The album’s centerpiece and title track, “The Invention of Animals,” running at 19-minutes-plus, was captured by highly regarded sound engineer Claudia Engelhart from a performance on February 12, 1994 in Thessaloniki, Greece.

The Invention of Animals by The John Lurie National Orchestra features a John Lurie painting as cover art. It will be released on digital formats, as well as limited pressing, collector’s edition 180 gram vinyl.


[Ignorance Is Not Only Not Knowing, It Includes Not Wanting To Know]


[You Have The Right To The Pursuit Of Happiness.  Good Luck With That]


[Heroin Leads To Harder Drugs]


[The Last Thoughts Of What’s His Name]

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