The cut-and-paste ransom stylings of Sex Pistols album artwork or Linder Sterling’s iconic Buzzcocks collages have now quietly seeped into the mainstream, influencing everything from high-street clothing stores to editorial design to today’s pop bands.
And while in their (often unimaginatively) reinterpreted forms these graphics lose some of the glue sniffin’, safety-pinned danger they once did, the original graphics are still just as visceral and brilliant as ever.
‘Someday All the Adults Will Die’: Punk Graphics 1971 – 1984, a new show opening at London’s Hayward Project Space next week, will present an overview of punk graphic design from before, during, and after the punk years.
Curated by acclaimed punk writers Johan Kugelberg and Jon Savage, the show will feature hundreds of previously unseen pieces from the punk era, including homemade cassettes, fanzines, posters, records and clothing.
Highlights from the exhibition include early press releases and pamphlets for the Sex Pistols and the Ramones; rare DIY 7” records for visitors to listen to; Malcolm McLaren’s situationist-informed art school prints; Raymond Pettibon’s early 1980s limited edition Black Flag prints and a Linder Sterling flyer for a 1978 Joy Division performance in Manchester.
Kugelberg says, ‘If you don’t like the culture you are spoon-fed, you can make your own. It worked wonders at the end of the 1970s, and all these jagged, chiaroscuro urgent masterpieces of graphic design, executed by art school masters alongside anguished adolescents continue to reverberate as get-up-and-get-on-with-it eyeball-pleasers.’
Work from designers and artists including Gee Vaucher, Linder Sterling, Jamie Reid, Gary Panter, Raymond Pettibon, John Holmstrom and Penny Rimbaud will be on show.
Pieces like the Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren-designed clothing on display show how readily emulated the punk style remains; and it’s clear the rife fanzine culture today simply wouldn’t exist without the proliferation of zines such as London’s Outrage, Punk, Sniffin’ Glue and Suburban Press (many of which will feature in the show) that spewed into being during the era.
The exhibition is accompanied by the book Punk: An Aesthetic, by Kugelberg and Savage, published by Rizzoli. There will also be a panel discussion at the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room on 13 September with Tony Drayton, editor of 1980s punk fanzines Ripped & Torn and Kill Your Pet Puppy; writer William Gibson; writer and cartoonist John Holmstrom and Crass record-sleeve artist Gee Vaucher.
‘Someday All the Adults Will Die’: Punk Graphics 1971 – 1984 runs from 14 September – 4 November at Hayward Gallery Project Space, Belvedere Road