SPOTLIGHT | THE ART OF PUNK
photo manipulation by nacrowe
i came across this three-part series THE ART OF PUNK which examines the contributions of visual artists RAYMOND PETTIBON, WINSTON SMITH and the duo of DAVE KING/GENE VAUCHER and their iconic graphic work with HARDCORE PUNK bands BLACK FLAG, DEAD KENNEDYS and CRASS respectively. this online series was produced almost a decade ago for an installation at MOCA (MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, LOS ANGELES).
i think the art associated with the AMERICAN and BRITISH HARDCORE scenes that sprung up in the 1980s after the initial wave of PUNK ROCK had subsided really took the DIY ethic to heart and ran with it. this was reflected in the raw intensity of the music, but also the iconic graphic work went into its presentation. obviously the brazenly political collage work of WINSTON SMITH was something that became part of the lexicon of flyers and fanzines alike. the fact that his work maintains a cohesive yet caustic edge this many years later really is a testament to its quality. the simple yet effective "DK" logo he created for DEAD KENNEDYS is likewise an iconic piece of graphic design that has been drawn on innumerable toilet stalls at venues over the years. too many for me to count.
likewise the ink drawings of RAYMOND PETTIBON are absolutely unflinching and brutal. with an economy of movement, he is able to inflict maximum impact on his targets, which are often figures of power and corruption, both in public and on the domestic front. the logo he devised for his brother's band, BLACK FLAG, is now effectively AMERICAN folk art, given the repetition with which it has now been tattooed on HARDCORE fans throughout the intervening decades. what his interview shows is the depth of the humor in his work, which is sorely overlooked to date.
in DAVE KING and GEE VAUCHER you are presented with a symbol that is rooted in the branding lexicon of tribal identification and corporate power. CRASS is such a complex, high-concept outfit with profoundly radical political leanings that make its adoption of the visual vocabulary a subversion in and of itself. with the CRASS symbol you are shown a sense of art steeped in intention and symbolism, which is the mark of any great art.
anyway, THE ART OF PUNK is well worth your time whether or not you have any interest in PUNK ROCK per se. it is a series rooted in the deep power of images, a concept that thoroughly transcends any musical affiliation or tradition. if anything the work these artists produce make you think and by extension complicate the consumption of the music, which is something i find endlessly fascinating.