Peter Christopherson: 1955-2010

Photographer, music video director, musician and former partner at design company Hipgnosis, Peter Christopherson, sadly passed away on Wednesday in his home in Bankok, Thailand, aged 55…

Photographer, music video director, musician and former partner at design company Hipgnosis, Peter Christopherson, sadly passed away on Wednesday in his home in Bangkok, Thailand, aged 55…

Leeds-born Christopherson, who was affectionately known as Sleazy, is probably best known as a member of the band Throbbing Gristle, although before his musical career, he was a commercial artist, designer and photographer. He was a partner at Hipgnosis – he joined  Storm Thorgerson and Aubrey Powell as an assistant in the mid 70s, becoming a full partner in 1980 and contributed to the design and artwork of several Hipgnosis covers including Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd and he is credited with the sole art direction of Peter Gabriel’s first three LPs:


Peter Gabriel, Car, 1977


Peter Gabriel, Scratch 1978


Peter Gabriel, Melt, 1980

“Peter had a habit of surprising Storm and me with his particular outlook on life,” recalls Hipgnosis’ Aubrey Powell in the 2008 book For The Love of Vinyl: The Album Art of Hipgnosis. “Hipgnosis were once asked to design a cover for Paul McCartney for his album Tug Of War,” he continues. “You couldn’t find a more conservative fellow in the album cover department than Paul McCartney yet, knowing this, Peter presented a picture, beautifully crafted, of a man hanging himself, surrounded in gold leaf, in the style of Gustav Klimt. Paul said politely, “Just not my image.” Pity, as it would have been a brave move. I think I got a bit of stick too, for being audacious enough to show that idea to Paul.”

As well as working as part of Hipgnosis, Christopherson also art directed several sleeves in his own right, such as the sleeves for A Certain Ratio’s To Each… on Factory Records:

and Dave Bell’s In Strict Tempo:

As a freelance photographer, Christopherson took the first promo photographs of the Sex Pistols in 1976 – and in 1977 he created a highly controversial window display for Malcolm McClaren and Vivienne Westwood’s King’s Road clothing boutique, SEX. He also designed the logo of fashion label BOY:

And as a music video director he shot well over 40 promos for the likes of Nine Inch nails, Paul McCartney, 10cc Erasure, The The, Van Halen, Jah Wobble, Sepultura, Robert Plant, Rage Against The Machine, Rollins Band and Björn Again.



Above, Christopherson’s video for Coil’s cover of Tainted Love

Chritopherson’s musical output also deserves a mention. He was a member of Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV and Coil. HIs photography and visual input featured in the record sleeves of those different bands. His Wikepedia entry will tell you more about his various musical outpourings: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Christopherson

Artist and designer John Coulthart wrote a nice tribute to Christopherson on his blog – johncoulthart.com/feuilleton

And Christopherson’s fellow Throbbing Gristle band members, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Chris Carter released a fitting obituary through record label Mute which outlined his impressively creative career and ended with the words: “Peter was a kind and beautiful soul. No words can express how much he will be missed.” Read the full obituary at thequietus.com

 

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