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John Dunbar (born 1943 in Mexico City) is a British artist, collector, and former gallerist, best known for his connections to the art and music scenes of the 1960s counterculture.
Personal life and career
Dunbar was born in Mexico City in 1943, the son of the British filmmaker, Robert Dunbar. He has three sisters, Marina Adams, an architect, and twins Margaret and Jennifer Dunbar. He spent his first four years in Moscow, where his father was a cultural attache, before the family returned to England.
Dunbar attended the University of Cambridge, where he met the singer Marianne Faithfull. They were married on 6 May 1965, with Peter Asher as the best man, and spent their honeymoon in Paris, with the Beat poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. The couple lived in a flat at 29 Lennox Gardens, Knightsbridge, London. On 10 November 1965, she gave birth to their son, Nicholas. She then “…left her husband to live with Mick Jagger…” telling the New Musical Express that “my first move was to get a Rolling Stone as a boyfriend. I slept with three and decided the lead singer was the best bet.” Dunbar and Faithfull divorced in 1970.
In 1965, Dunbar co-founded the Indica Gallery with Barry Miles. The gallery became known for staging exhibitions by cutting-edge artists, including Boyle Family and Yoko Ono from the Fluxus movement. It was at Indica where he introduced Ono to John Lennon. Indica folded in just two years, after which Dunbar became an artist and exhibited work alongside Peter Blake and Colin Self. From 1969 to 1971 Dunbar was exhibitions officer for the British Council, revitalizing their programme by promoting a new generation of artists such as Barry Flanagan, Colin Self, Bruce McLean and Clive Barker. With Jill Matthews, Dunbar later fathered William Dunbar, now a journalist based in Tbilisi, Georgia. […]
The connection had started with Peter Asher’s friend and musical partner Gordon Waller, who had dated Jenny Dunbar, from nearby Bentinck Street. Through Jenny they got to know her brother, John Dunbar, who had studied science and art at Cambridge and married singer Marianne Faithfull in May 1965. He wrote a weekly art column for the Scotsman and had a knack of being the first to pick up on emerging trends. He would become an important mentor to both Paul and John.
A frequent guest at Wimpole Street, Dunbar knew a lot about contemporary art, music from other cultures, American and European literature, and psychedelic drugs. A friend of his was Barry Miles, an art college graduate (Gloucestershire College of Art) and expert on Beat generation writing who knew the poets Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso and the novelist William Burroughs. At the time he was introduced into the Wimpole Street circle he was managing Better Books on Charing Cross Road, a shop inspired by Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s bohemian City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco.
From “Beatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year” by Steve Turner
We had books around and by osmosis he absorbed a lot of these things. [Paul] learned about films as well. My father had a film school and Truffaut came over and those guys and I had watched a lot of movies by that time. I had an 8mm camera and John and Paul had 16mm cameras and I showed them both how to use them. They’d send things through twice so they’d get double exposures. They learned by trying things out.”
John Dubar – Co-founder of Indica Books and Gallery – From From “Beatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year” by Steve Turner
Last updated on November 29, 2023