Walking into the Steven Kasher Gallery last night for the opening reception of Rude And Reckless was very much like flashing back to my teenage bedroom, whose walls were plastered floor to ceiling with Punk Rock posters, show flyers, stickers and album cover art until I moved out of my parents house to go to college. Punk Rock – at a time when Punk Rock was really something vital and alive – was everything to me at that time, and I was an avid collector of 7” Punk singles (which I’d pick up by the dozens at Zed Records in Long Beach, California) and punk/new wave badges. A lot of what I collected, and probably still have, seems to have been magically curated into this amazing collection of memorabilia that is sure to delight anyone who has fond memories of the British, New York or LA/Orange County punk scenes in the late ‘70s to early ‘80s. Good times.
Rude and Reckless: Punk/Post-Punk Graphics, 1976-82 is the first New York exhibition surveying the extraordinary diversity of Punk and Post-Punk graphic design. The exhibition showcases a wide range of American and British artistry, with influences that include the Bauhaus, Futurism, Dadaism, Pop Art, Constructivism and Expressionism. The exhibition features over 200 rare posters, along with fanzines, flyers, clothing, badges and stickers.
Rude and Reckless documents an era that produced a great burst of applied graphic-design creativity, one of the most subversive of the 20th Century. Vivid, violent and frequently acid-tongued, the works in this exhibit represent one of the truly authentic DIY youth culture movements of the Western World. The exhibition is timed to coincide with the 35th anniversary of Punk Rock; both the release of the first Ramones album, and the mythical (and notorious) Anarchy in the UK Tour were seminal punk events in 1976. The exhibition is based on the collection Andrew Krivine, who began collecting in 1977. Curated by Krivine and Steven Kasher, the selection comprises the rarest and finest examples culled from an archive of more than 800 punk/new wave/post-punk posters and ephemera.
Beyond the “Holy Trinity” of Punk Rock (Ramones, Clash, Sex Pistols), Rude and Reckless includes materials covering over 70 Punk, New Wave, Post-Punk and No Wave performers. The collection on display constitutes a comprehensive A to Z of both iconic and obscure groups, including: A Certain Ratio, the Adverts, Alternative TV, the B52s, Bauhaus, Blondie, the Buzzcocks, Chrome, the Circle Jerks, the Cramps, the Cure, the Damned, Devo, Eater, Eddie & the Hot Rods, Elvis Costello, the Fall, Fear, Fire Engines, the Flying Lizards, Gang of Four, GBH, Generation X, Gun Club, Ian Dury & the Blockheads, Iggy Pop, the Jam, Jim Carroll Band, Johnny Thunders, Joy Division, Killing Joke, Kraftwerk, Lou Reed, the Lurkers, Malcolm McLaren, the Misfits, New Order, Nick Lowe, Nina Hagen, the Only Ones, 999, Patti Smith, Penetration, PIL, the Police, the Pop Group, the Pork Dukes, Pylon, the Rings, Sham 69, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Snakefinger, the Slits, the Stranglers, Suicide, Talking Heads, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, Television, Wayne County, X-Ray Spex and XTC.
The exhibition includes designs from the most illustrious graphic artists of the period, such as Peter Saville, Malcolm Garrett, Barney Bubbles, Gee Vaucher, Linder Sterling, Keith Haring, Robert Williams, and, of course, Jamie Reid. On the other hand, several bands (some fronted by art-school dropouts) designed their own graphics.
In recent years several Punk-related exhibitions have been mounted in America and Europe, raising the artistic profile of Punk. In 2009 MOMA held an exhibition focused on the New York scene, entitled Looking at Music: Side 2. In May 2010, Boo-Hooray presented selected graphic works of the Secret Public (Linder Sterling and Jon Savage). In the Fall of 2010 the Steven Kasher Gallery presented a show focused on the legendary Punk venue Max’s Kansas City. In October 2010, two Punk/New Wave high definition graphics exhibitions were held in London. Haunch of Venison hosted an exhibition of Punk posters and memorabilia entitled Loud Flash: British Punk on Paper and Chelsea Space presented an exhibition dedicated to the works of Barney Bubbles. In January of this year, a Punk graphics exhibition was mounted by the French Academy in Rome at the prestigious Villa Medici. Finally, in the current Art in the Streets exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles several works by Jamie Reid are displayed. Punk’s presence in the modern art world continues to grow.
Rude and Reckless documents the visual expression of Punk, the continuously influential subculture infused with a gleeful, undisguised contempt for just about everything. This show seeks to demonstrate that nothing truly anti-commercial, venomous, and loutish has been produced in the field of graphic art over the past 30 years – that the 1975-1982 period signals both the apex and the death knell of modern graphic design – and it was all done without computers! Rude and Reckless is an exhibition that every young artist needs to see!
Rude and Reckless: Punk/Post-Punk Graphics, 1976-82 is being presented at Steven Kasher Gallery in conjunction with our photography exhibition Laura Levine: Musicians, an insider’s look at the artists at the forefront of rock, punk, indie rock, post-punk, hip-hop, New Wave, and No Wave.
Rude and Reckless: Punk/Post-Punk Graphics, 1976-82 will be on view through August 19, 2011 at the Steven Kasher Gallery, located at 521 W. 23rd St., New York, NY 10011.
Alternative TV, The Image Has Cracked, 1978