Pistols’ art still hits the mark

Yolanda Zappaterra finds Sex Pistols’ artwork to be just as provocative as it was 30 years ago

The exhibition, designed by Anthony Macilwaine, takes a back seat to the work, and also illustrates its cohesion (visual proof perhaps of the collaborative importance stressed by Wilson). It is themed in four sections: the identity of the band; its clothes and fashion; the evolution of its aesthetic; and, finally, its dissolution. It features sloped, fragmented walls to deliver a sense of dislocation and disorientation. But the work is floated in a clean, antiseptic space that wisely shies away from trying to recreate a Punk aesthetic.

It’s a blank look, says Wilson, which was partly inspired by visiting Westwood and McLaren’s Sex shop in Chelsea. ‘There was a feeling of trepidation and almost fear going [there],’ he recalls. ‘It looked difficult to get into and harsh from the exterior.’ Visitors to The Hospital show may get a sense of that edginess from the exhibition design, but it’s the contents that will leave them reeling. Almost 30 years after its creation, the work is still some of the most original, inventive and exuberant expression of youth you’ll ever see.

Punk: A True and Dirty Tale is at The Hospital, 24 Endell Street, London WC2 from 7 October to 23 January 2005. The Cinema at The Hospital will host a Punk-inspired film season during the show

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