My favorite artwork/George Clinton

M. H. Miller, New York Times Style Magazine , February 10, 2022


My favorite artworks

George Clinton on Painting, P-Funk and his Artistic Legacy

The artist's influence is  Indisputably far-reaching. When asked about his own inspirations, he cites Lauren Halsey, as well as Fab five Freddy and ancient Egypt.


By M. H. Miller

Feb, 10.2022


George Chinton has been ahead of his time for most of his life, and

he knows it. In the early 70s, he began refining his artistic visIon - one

that combined elements of blues, R&B, gospel and 

immersive science fiction imagery into something altogether

different from anything that had come belore - with the musical collective 

Parliament-funkadelic which he formed and lead. "

I knew then that I was doing something I would have to explain 20

years later Clinton tald me on a recent phone call speaking from his home in Tallahasse, Fla. 


Clinton (far left) and Parliament-Funkadelic, photographed at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, 1977.©  2018 Bruce W. Talamon All Rights Reserved


It would be hard to overstate just how influential a figure Clinton

has been in the history of American culture P-Funk as it's known

to admirers, quickly became a unique artistic movement. In

concert its members celebrated Black identitv and condemned

American racism to the backheat of some of the most danceable

music ever made, all while dressed in costumes that were better than anything on "Star Trek” 

(Clinton is a self-professed fan of the show) and in front of an enormous stage prop known as the Mothership, a large spacecraft that seemed to suggest they were not of this world. The group's impact still reverberates in the pop culture ether. For one thing, its music is among the most sampled

in history, providing the framework for hip-hop classics from early

‘90s G.funk, as well as British trip-hop and the neo-soul of

D Angelo and Childish Gambino, among countless others. And if

Afrofuturism - a term coined in no small part to retroactively help

define the mix of Black musical traditions, elaborate costumes and

utopian fantasies that P-Funk fostered and celebrated- he likely 

gave that movement its clearest, most distilled expression. Or. as

Clinton out it in our interview. "I did my thing”


 George Clinton’s collaboration with Overton Loyd “Black’s Live Masterfully” (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Spring McManus Advisory


In more recent years, Clinton has become a crusader for artists rights, as well as a prolific visual artist. P.Funk always had a rich iconography, thanks to the artists Pedro Bell and Overton Loyd, who designed many of the collective's album covers. 

(Bell’s artwork for the 1973 Funkadelic record “Cosmic Slop” still looks ar

if it landed on

earth from a distant planet, much more enjoyable planet than our own.) 

Sometime in the 1980s, taking a cue from Bell and Loyd, Clinton began doodling when he'd sign autographs, and he started doing more serious paintings in the 1990s. He’d sold a few

works by the turn of the century, but on the outset of the pandemic - which led to the cancellation of a planned tour and left him, at least for a time, without much to do - he took refuge in his art studio. “I felt good doing it,“ he said, “and I started getting something out of it, until it actually felt almost like making the records.

I was un early at 7 o'clock in the morning and couldn't wait

to get to the art room and spend all my money on canvases.”

If he ran out of canvases, he’d paint bird houses instead. “Anything that I could paint on,“ he said. (Last year, he had solo shows, curated by Spring McManus art advisory, in New Orleans and Miami, roughly coinciding with Clinton‘s 80th birthday.)

Clinton cites a diverse arrav of influences on his work as a painter

In addition to P funk, they include Basquiat, Fab five Freddy,

ancient Egypt ("every time I see a painting or carving on the side

a mountain, I’m like ‘Damn, somebody was thinking about that ([expletive] that far back?”) and Salvador Dali. “I like his frame of mind,“ he said. “You know the contrast of a watch melting on a cactus plant - I always wondered: "Where was his head at?”


Another major influence is the Los Angeles, based artist Lauren Halsey, whom Clinton chose for this iteration of tea “my favorite artwork“ video series. Halsey, 34 was not yet born when P-Funk

was in its prime. She came upon Clinton's music as a child through

the Los Angeles hip-hop scene (Dr. Dre famously sampled the P.

Funk anthems "Mothership Connection (Star Child)" and "P-Funk

(Wants to Get Funked Up)" on his landmark 1992 record "The

Chronic and through her father and a cousin who were, “hardcore Funkateers,” she said in an interview. The group’s 

mythology became "my cartoons," Halsey continued. It 

empowered my imagination very early on.”

She described the overall proiect of the group as "Funk as an armor, as a

help exist and transcend the mess of the world.”

 In 2018, Flea, the bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (Clinton produced the bands 1985 record “Freaky Styley“), took Clinton to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, where he encountered Halsey’s “Crenshaw District Hieroglyph Project,” a sculptural installation that “remixes“ as Halsey put it, Afrofuturistic imagery as a celebration of the culture of South Los Angeles. Clinton realized then that “everything that we did had been pertaining to some kind of artwork,“ he said of P-Funk. “It’s the backdrop to the culture for the last 40 years.“


Clinton in his backyard In Tallahassee, Fla., in October 2021.   Tony Floyd

Halsey said it was one of her dreams in life to design a stage for Clinton to perform on that would match the scale of the maximalist P-Funk concerts of the 1970s. And why not? If nothing else, Clinton‘s career has been an ongoing argument that anything is possible. He has a handful of live performances on the horizon, and when asked if he was planning to ever go back on tour, Clinton responded, “Oh, hell, yeah.“


M. H. Miller is a features director for T Magazine 


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