GEORGE CLINTON

ALEX

Like all creative geniuses, George Clinton's vision did not spring full-born from his brow, but developed throughout his life and various experiences. What has resulted is a culmination and an expression of those things that he holds sacred: freedom, positive energy, and lack of social prejudice through knowledge, albeit wrapped up in a sardonic, satirical guise. He is best known as the father of P-Funk, a synthesis of jazz, funk, R&B, soul and gospel motifs into a street rhythm that has been an inspiration for contemporary music for the past three decades. His eclectic and spontaneous vocabulary have influenced rap and hip-hop artists such as Ice-T, Snoop Doggy Dog, Dr. Dre, Public Enemy, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kurt Franklin, Gods Property, and many others.
               
 

 

                Clinton's musical pursuits began in the mid 1950s (when he was about fourteen) with a doo-wop group called the Parliaments (named after a brand of cigarettes). It was formed with friend from the Newark, New Jersey area who hung out at the barber shop where George worked. The shop was well-known for creating the "do's" of the day: finger waves, processes, etc., making people look and feel cool. You couldn't tell who was who when they left the shop . . . there was no class distinction.

 In 1967 the Parliaments had their first big hit with "I Wanna Testify", which launched George's career as a musician. Through the years, he has built a music and entertainment empire, creating and inspiring bands, establishing philanthropic foundations for the advancement of education, and promoting his vision of a unified universe. With Parliament (the "s" being dropped due to a dispute with the recording industry) and Funkadelic later coexisting as the P-Funk AllStars, George has developed a following through recordings and elaborately staged extravaganzas that defies demographic definition. His productions since the mid 1970s Mother ship tour have become concept-driven pieces incorporating various recurring characters and socio-political ideology. The underlying theme of people coming together and liberating themselves through music is one that is central to George's work.
Like all renaissance men, George's genius is not restricted to a single genre. Previously unknown works of art contain the same layering of images that are found in his music. George's complex images, exhibited both musically and visually, were a fundamental influence on the Funk Art movement and particularly Jean-Michel Basquiat, who credited George's layering of sounds to his own layering of visual images. The seeds of Funk Art, like Funk Music, are found in the de-bunking of the established movements of their time. Anti-art factions such as Dadaism and Neo Dadaism created conceptual work derived simply from everyday objects. These works not only glorified the products of the machine age and the genesis of mass communication, they introduced new icons into the artistic vocabulary. In contemporary society, the proliferation of instantaneous information has flooded our collective consciousness with images and messages that confound, rather than clarify, our world. These overlapping messages become the root of the Funk Art movement and of Clinton's drawings and paintings. Images and text are layered like screens on a computer. Their relationship is relative to their proximity, a seemingly meaningless plethora of data that compels the viewer to decipher the artist's intent.

 

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