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Caroline Coon

Caroline Coon (born 1945) is an English artist, journalist and political activist. Her artwork, which often explores sexual themes from a feminist standpoint, has been exhibited at many major London galleries, including the Saatchi Gallery and the Tate. Caroline was given her first solo painting exhibition at The Gallery Liverpool entitled "Caroline Coon: The Great Offender" which ran through May 2018.

Life

Coon was born to a family of Kent landowners and had five brothers. She left home at 16 and moved to London to find a job. She lived in Notting Hill and began by doing some modelling work, including making a softcore porn film. Trained as a figurative painter, she became involved in the 1960s underground movement in London while still attending art school. In 1967, with Rufus Harris, she co-founded Release, an agency set up to provide legal advice and arrange legal representation for young people charged with the possession of drugs. She remains politically active, campaigning primarily for feminist causes, including the legalisation of prostitution and the legalisation of drugs.

In the 1970s, she became involved in the London punk scene, writing about bands for Melody Maker and providing artwork for groups such as The Clash, whom she briefly managed, and The Police. Her interviews and reviews were noted for interrogating the attitudes of leading punk bands toward gender and sexuality.

In the "Punky Business" episode of the BBC comedy series The Goodies, Jane Asher plays a parody of Coon ("Caroline Kook"), the dream lover of Tim Brooke-Taylor's aspiring punk rock star. Coon also inspired Robert Wyatt's lyrics for the Matching Mole song "O Caroline", The Stranglers' "London Lady" and, according to herself, Bob Dylan's "She Belongs to Me", though this claim is highly questionable.

Coon's artwork is provocative and is particularly concerned with the human nude. In 1995 her painting, Mr Olympia, was not shown at Tate Liverpool because the male subject had a semi-erect penis. In June 2000 she won damages of £40,000 and legal costs of £33,000 from publisher Random House after author Jonathon Green made false claims in his 1998 book All Dressed Up: the Sixties and the Counterculture. Coon published an intimate memoir, Laid Bare, in 2016.

Publications

  • The Release Report on Drug Offenders and the Law. Sphere, 1969. .
  • 1988: The New Wave Punk Rock Explosion. Hawthorn, 1977. .
  • Laid Bare - Diary - 1983-1984. Cunst Art, 2016. .