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Home arrow Reviews arrow Books arrow Gerald Scarfe: The Art Of Pink Floyd The Wall - hardback book
Gerald Scarfe: The Art Of Pink Floyd The Wall - hardback book Print E-mail
Written by Matt   
Thursday, 11 November 2021

Gerald Scarfe - The Art Of Pink Floyd The Wall hardback book 2021To be published (with a slight delay to the previous date) on December 2nd, 2021 by Little, Brown, is The Art Of Pink Floyd The Wall. This is a beautiful new, 288-page hardback book, in landscape format housed within a cardboard sleeve (shown to the right), that reveals a huge amount of rare and previously unseen sketches, paintings and more, created by Gerald Scarfe principally for The Wall project, but also including earlier materials, for Wish You Were Here and Animals, for example. It is an expensive book, but the work involved bringing together the breadth of material within, and the quality of its presentation, help to justify the price tag.

Prefaced with a slightly bizarre foreword by Roger Waters (that is not overly illuminating!), Scarfe's lengthy and absorbing introduction reveals that his first experience of Pink Floyd at UFO in London, 1967. Fast forward to 1973 and - in Nick Mason's kitchen - Scarfe was asked to work on stuff for the Floyd's upcoming Wish You Were Here project, specifically animations for the live shows, and of course, the 1974 Winter Tour programme and poster. Even at this stage, the rare images start to flow, with more traditional and recognisable sketches of the band members during their rehearsals, and a spider becoming a screaming Medusa head for Shine On You Crazy Diamond.

Of course, the main body of the book concerns his work with Roger Waters and the rest of the band from 1978 onwards. Waters presented his raw demo tapes and explained the concept to Scarfe, who then set about designing the various characters who would inhabit the story; these would inevitably change as the process went on, and some never went past the initial few months (such as Punch and Judy being the main characters).

The introduction continues with thoughts of the live show, including the inflatable slug or worm that would be transported from location to location to play the concerts in a venue that the band had total control over. Scarfe discusses his experience of the actual concerts, then talks about the "final part of Roger's original ambition" for The Wall - the feature film.

Scarfe then touches on the Waters Pros & Cons project, including the origins of the name Reg. He concludes the introduction by setting out his aims for this book, looking at things up to current times, and how going through his archives revealed to him that he could cover the whole story - and also showed him that some of the elements were in retrospect very personal to him and his life. The conclusion of the introduction also sees the end of Scarfe's narrative in a traditional sense, with the rest of the book taken up with a couple of hundred further pages entirely taken up with pictures, paintings, drawings, and more, all accompanied with Scarfe's footnotes about each image. This arguably works much better, as he isn't forced into coming up with a narrative which isn't really needed. It also allows him the ability to give short, pithy, and sometimes amusing captions which wouldn't fit in to a more conventional rundown.

Before heading into The Wall itself, images from his work on Shine On You Crazy Diamond and Welcome To The Machine are shared, along with an animation sequence for Animals, which was never filmed and seen here for the first time.

From the first ideas for The Wall, through to the finished images that we are all familiar with, there's such a wealth of material that steadily progresses through the album/film/concert staging, that you can quickly feel quite overwhelmed with the amount that Scarfe clearly created during his time on this project. And, for the first time, an incredible amount of that work has been revealed for the first time. An early example is his initial design for The Teacher which provides a stark contrast between the character's suit and head.

However much you think you know The Wall, and Scarfe's artwork for it, this book will reveal far more than you could imagine. One wonders if there was anything left in his archive that wasn't included? That's not a criticism, but a note of thanks for bringing in so many early sketches and ideas to sit alongside finished designs and images. This is a truly incredible book that will appeal equally to Pink Floyd fans, to Scarfe enthusiasts, and to those interested in production design for film and concert stage.

This really is an exemplary collection of Scarfe's work for the band, and the image reproduction throughout is top notch. Yes, it has a hefty price tag, but putting together a book like this was never going to be a quick and cheap affair. Some retailers are offering discounts thus reducing the price a little.

For those who would like to add this incredible book to their Floydian bookshelves, you can order it through the following links, taking advantage of Amazon's free pre-order price guarantee - should their asking price drop at any point between you ordering it, and release, they will automatically charge you the lowest price during that period! At the moment, Amazon UK are selling it at a 20% discount, so a good time to get it. Ordering through our links also helps with BD's ongoing running costs, and we really appreciate it: Amazon UK, Amazon France, Amazon Germany, Amazon Spain and Amazon Italy. Some stores might not yet have the book available to order (at time of writing this, and Canada still don't list the book) so please keep checking back as it should be available from all stores, soon. If your chosen store doesn't stock it, try other Amazon stores as they will ship books worldwide. As an alternative to Amazon, the UK retailer WH Smith are also offering it with a discount of 20% off the recommended retail price.

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