A survey of the extraordinary diversity of punk and post-punk graphic design, Pretty Vacant: The Graphic Language of Punk features several hundred posters, flyers, fanzines, handbills, record sleeves and other graphic ephemera from the collection of Andrew Krivine.
Emerging in the mid-1970s, punk was truly popular culture on the margins, with new ideas germinating out of a sense of urgency and seemingly random aesthetic collisions. Before it became commercially commodified into a simplified mishmash of safety pins, mohawks and anarchy symbols, punk was as much about its wide range of visual signifiers at it was a kind of music. A do-it-yourself approach and a loathing of commercial slickness were key hallmarks of the punk attitude, informing not just the music, but also the explosion of graphic design that accompanied it. Taking cues from a wealth of influences ranging from Dadaism to the Situationist International to pulp fiction, and communicating the themes of nihilism, black humor and reappropriation, the visual language of punk was a pastiche of imagery that reflected the consciousness and anti-aesthetic of a new counterculture.
Featuring several hundred works on loan from New York-based collector Andrew Krivine, the exhibition includes iconic works by some of the most illustrious graphic artists of the period, including Barney Bubbles, Malcolm Garrett, Raymond Pettibon, Jamie Reid, Peter Saville, Linder Sterling, Gee Vaucher and Arturo Vega, as well as pieces created by the hands of talented, yet anonymous, artists. Beyond the ‘holy trinity’ of punk – The Clash, The Ramones, and the Sex Pistols – Pretty Vacant includes posters, flyers, handbills, record sleeves, badges and other graphic materials created for both iconic and obscure punk and post-punk bands, including: A Certain Ratio, The Adverts, The B-52s, Bauhaus, Blondie, the Buzzcocks, the Circle Jerks, The Cramps, The Cure, the Damned, Devo, Elvis Costello, The Fall, Fear, Gang of Four, Generation X, The Gun Club, Iggy Pop, The Jam, Joy Division, Killing Joke, Kraftwerk, Lou Reed, New Order, Public Image Limited, Sham 69, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, Television and X-Ray Spex.
By Dan Henk
You know, I’m probably going to draw plenty of flak for this, but it’s not the first time, I doubt it will be the last time, and in all seriousness, I honestly don’t care.
I came from a punk rock back background. In high school I had a blue mohawk, painted up spiky leather jacket, and combat boots. And this was in conservative Virginia back in 1989. I was the guy that painted everyone’s leather jackets. I did the fliers for my friend’s bands. The political cartoons for their fanzines. All under the watchful eyes of the Fairfax County police, who have mug shots of me with at least 5 different hairstyles, and a file cabinet full of fabricated charges that sometimes kept me in the drunk tank overnight. I had a super christian,military dad that made me go to a psychiatrist every week and threw my brother in a mental institution. He’s a recovering junky now. I turned 18 and he kicked me out of the house and moved. To another country. I spent 8 months homeless. Like living in the woods, with a rock as my pillow, homeless.
By Dan Henk
I remember when I was 13. I had just gotten out of my Huey Lewis and The News, Tears For Fears, juvenile musical tastes. I was now into “hair metal.” Ratt. Quiet Riot. Def Leppard. I thought that stuff was so much cooler, and couldn’t believe I’d liked things like the Dire Straights. Then, a little over a year later, I got three albums all at once. Metallica’s Ride the Lightning, Megadeth’s Peace Sells, and Slayer’s Hell Awaits. I was floored, immediately switched over to trash-metal, grew my hair out, and became a little northern Florida deviant. I wouldn’t admit I had listened to anything else. At 16, in my new school in northern Virginia, I heard Black Flag. My whole world changed…
By Rose Riot
Keith Morris is known as one of the godfathers of American Punk. He is responsible for fronting two of the most crucial bands in the genre, Black Flag and The Circle Jerks. His latest band, Off! is creating a stir among fans young and old. The word on the streets is that Off! is the real punk rock deal. Having seen them recently at SXSW, I would agree. I felt honored that I was granted an interview with Keith, a man who has a lot to say and some great stories to tell… (more…)
By Rose Riot
What can you say about a Motorhead show? It’s a fucking Motorhead show, that’s all that needs to be said! This legendary band binds music lovers of many genres –rock, metal, punk and hardcore can all find some roots in Motorhead. They have inspired bands from The Damned to Motley Crue, and everything in-between. (more…)
By Rose Riot
If you were a skater in the early 80s there was a good chance that you were a fan of the band Agent Orange. Agent Orange is the band responsible for morphing together the sounds of surf music and punk rock to create what became surf/skate punk music. This band hit the Orange County California scene in that magic year for music, 1979. (more…)