the Backroom



The Vietnam War, Coronavirus, and David Burnett

by Chris Murray on April 23, 2020  |  4 Comments »
An American soldier reads a letter from home, while taking a break from repairing a tank tread. Lang Vei, South Vietnam, March 1971. Photo by David Burnett.

This week the number of deaths from coronavirus in the United States surpassed the number of Americans killed in the Vietnam War. This pandemic took less than three months to reach the number of fatalities that took ten years during that war. A very somber thought.

American soldiers of the 1/7 Battalion of the 1st Air Cavalry, near Xuan Loc, north of Saigon, South Vietnam, December 1971. Photo by David Burnett.

These compelling photographs were taken fifty years ago by David Burnett. They remain a profound reminder of that heartbreaking time in our nation’s history.  Burnett is one of the finest photojournalists of our time.

US troops at comedian Bob Hope’s Christmas show in Phu Bai. Thua Thien Hue province, South Vietnam, December 1970. Photo by David Burnett.

David Burnett’s photographs are represented by Govinda Gallery.

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Photo of the Week: “Hamatsa Emerging From The Woods” By E.S. Curtis

by Chris Murray on April 21, 2020  |  7 Comments »
Hamatsa Emerging From The Woods, 1914. Photo by E.S. Curtis.

This photograph by E.S. Curtis is of a Hamatsa shaman, possessed by supernatural power, emerging from the woods after many days participating in a secret society ritual. He is a member of the First Nations’ Kwakwakaʼwakw peoples of British Columbia.

When we finally emerge from this pandemic many of us may have a reaction similar to the gentleman in this photograph. We post this on the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.

Self-portrait, 1889. Photo by E.S. Curtis.

“I feel that the life of these children of nature is like the dying day drawing to its end; only off in the West is the glorious light of the setting sun, telling us, perhaps, of light after darkness.” E.S. Curtis, 1905.

Govinda Gallery featured Edward Sheriff Curtis’ photographs in a major exhibition that opened on May 5th, 1978. It was our first exhibition of photographs, and could not have been a better start for our photography initiative.  The Smithsonian Natural History Museum purchased a portfolio of Curtis’ photographs from us during that exhibition. That made me feel we were moving in the right direction. 

“Hamatsa Emerging From The Woods,” 1914, is available from Govinda Gallery. 

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Art of the Week: “Caution” by Carl Titolo

by Chris Murray on March 20, 2020  |  Comments Off on Art of the Week: “Caution” by Carl Titolo
Caution, Richard Lewis. Drawing by Carl Titolo.

From Reflections from Hell by Richard Lewis (powerHouse Books).

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Mati Klarwein Feature Story in British GQ

by Chris Murray on March 10, 2020  |  Comments Off on Mati Klarwein Feature Story in British GQ

Mati Klarwein is one of my favorite artists. His exhibitions at Govinda Gallery were some of the most memorable we have had. Mati had a great influence on our exhibition programming. We also enjoyed many portrait commissions for Mati, including great paintings of Bill Paley, Danille Kogod, Henry Schoellkopf, and Kim Waters, among others.

Danille Kogod, 1982. Portrait by Mati Klarwein.

Last month’s issue of British GQ featured a 10 page feature story on Mati and his paintings. The story quotes Andy Warhol as saying of Mati Klarwein that he was “the most famous unknown painter in the world.”

Some people have said that Mati painted album covers… however he always told me that musical artists would happen to see a painting of his, and then ask to use it for their album. A great example is his painting Annunciation, which Carlos Santana saw and asked to use on a cover of Santana’s greatest album, Abraxas.

Annunciation, 1961. Painting by Mati Klarwein.
Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew.

As well as Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew.

Mati Klarwein’s invitation for his Govinda Gallery exhibition in 1987.

Jimi Hendrix, 1970. Painting by Mati Klarwein.

I was very glad to have visited Mati in his remarkable studio in Mallorca for two summers before he passed on in 2002. Mati was a great inspiration as an artist. He possessed a remarkable style and a wonderful sense of humor. He was also a dear most friend.

Artist And Model, 1959. Self portrait by Mati Klarwein.

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Richard Lewis, The Prince of Pain in The Washington Post

by Chris Murray on March 5, 2020  |  13 Comments »
Richard Lewis. Photograph by Arthur Grace.

The Washington Post published a front page feature story today on comedian and actor Richard Lewis. It was an excellent story. In 1994, I exhibited photographer Arthur Grace’s photos from his book Comedians at Govinda Gallery. This beautiful portrait of Richard Lewis was from that exhibition.

I first got to know of Lewis from frequent viewings with my son David of the film Robin Hood: Men in Tights in 1993. It was a hilarious movie, and Lewis played Prince John.

Richard Lewis as Prince John in Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993).
Polaroid of Richard Lewis and Chris Murray, Washington, D.C., 2001.
Govinda Gallery Archive.

I first got to meet Lewis at a book signing in Washington, D.C. in 2001. His book The Other Great Depression had just been published, and I heard he would be in town to launch the book. Lewis had been collecting from Govinda Gallery limited edition autographed books by George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and many other musical artists, published by Genesis Publications in England. Richard inscribed my copy of The Other Great Depression and made a joke out of how much money he spent on those beautiful books.

It was a remarkable thing for me that 14 years after I first met Lewis at that book signing I ended up editing and having published Richard Lewis’ book, Reflections from Hell: Richard Lewis’ Guide On How Not To Live (powerHouse 2015). That book features Lewis’ humor with drawings accompanying each of his ‘reflections’ by the artist Carl Titolo. Larry David contributed a foreword to the book. Both Lewis and Larry David collected Carl Titolo’s art and were friends of the artist.

It was an amazing year working on that book with Lewis, and I learned so much from him. It was a great time… and a great book.

Reflections from Hell is available from the powerHouse Books Arena Shop and Amazon.

Category: Blog, The Back Room   

Happy Birthday George Harrison!

by Chris Murray on February 24, 2020  |  Comments Off on Happy Birthday George Harrison!
George Harrison, Friar Park, 1970.
© Photograph by Barry Feinstein.


Barry Feinstein’s photographs are available through Govinda Gallery.

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Photo of the Week: Monique van Vooren by Andy Warhol

by Chris Murray on February 18, 2020  |  Comments Off on Photo of the Week: Monique van Vooren by Andy Warhol
Peter Malatesta and Monique van Vooren, Washington DC, 1970. Silver print.
Photograph by Andy Warhol.


Brussels beauty Monique van Vooren passed away January 25th. She played the Penguin’s moll in Batman and starred as Baroness Katrin Frankenstein in Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein. We exhibited this print at Warhol’s photography exhibition at Govinda Gallery for the launch of his book Exposures in the fall of 1990.

Andy Warhol’s photographs are available through Govinda Gallery.

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Happy 75th Birthday, Bob Marley!

by Chris Murray on February 5, 2020  |  Comments Off on Happy 75th Birthday, Bob Marley!
Serious Bob, from the Kaya session, 1976. Photo by Kate Simon.

Rebel Music: Bob Marley & Roots Reggae. Photographs by Kate Simon. (Genesis Publications)

Kate Simon’s photographs are available through Govinda Gallery.

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John Lennon… I Love My Time by Allan Tannenbaum

by Chris Murray on January 21, 2020  |  Comments Off on John Lennon… I Love My Time by Allan Tannenbaum
John Lennon, NYC, 1980. Photograph by Allan Tannenbaum.

This beautiful photo of John Lennon was taken by Allan Tannenbaum in New York City 40 years ago.

As Yoko Ono wrote in the foreword to John & Yoko: A New York Love Story (Insight Editions), “Cherish all your days. You never know how precious they will be to you one day…”

Allan Tannenbaum’s photos are available through Govinda Gallery.

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Happy Birthday Ted Russell!

by Chris Murray on January 9, 2020  |  1 Comment »

This photo of Marilyn Monroe was taken by Ted Russell in Seoul, Korea in 1954 when Monroe arrived at the Yongsan United States Army Garrison to entertain the troops.

Tomorrow is Ted Russell’s 90th birthday. What a pleasure it has been for us to represent Ted’s extraordinary photographs and to have published a book of his historic images of Bob Dylan with Rizzoli. His exhibitions in museums and galleries internationally have been a sensation.

Ted Russell photographed Ann-Margret in 1961 in Central Park for the photographs on her album The Vivacious One.

I am sure both Marilyn Monroe and Ann-Margret would be wishing Ted Russell a Happy Birthday tomorrow!

Bob Dylan singing Happy Birthday to Ted Russell!

Ted Russell’s photographs are available through Govinda Gallery.

Category: Blog, The Back Room   
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