Punk Art History (Book)

Artworks from the European No Future Generation

The punk movement of the 1970s to early 1980s is examined as an art movement through archive research, interviews, and art historical analysis. It is about pop, pain, poetry, presence, and about a ‘no future’ generation refusing to be the next artworld avant-garde, instead choosing to be the ‘rear-guard’. 103 col. and b/w illus.

 

Author interview with Echoes & Dust

Category: Music, Visual Arts
Series: Global Punk

Edition

The punk movement of the 1970s to early 1980s is examined as an art movement through archive research, interviews, and art historical analysis. It is about pop, pain, poetry, presence, and about a ‘no future’ generation refusing to be the next artworld avant-garde, instead choosing to be the ‘rear-guard’.

Skov draws on personal interviews with punk art protagonists from London, New York, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Berlin, among others the members Die Tödliche Doris (The Deadly Doris), members of Værkstedet Værst (The Workshop Called Worst), Nina Sten-Knudsen, Marc Miller, Diana Ozon, Hugo Kaagman, as well as email correspondence with Jon Savage, Anna Banana, and Genesis Breyer P-Orridge.

A large portion of the discussed materials stem from the protagonists' private archives, while some very public—scandalous and spectacular—events are discussed, too, such as the Prostitution exhibition at the ICA in London in 1976 and Die Große Untergangsshow (The Grand Downfall Show) in West-Berlin in 1981. The examined materials cover almost all media: paintings, drawings, bricolages, collages, booklets, posters, zines, installations, sculptures, Super 8 films, documentation of performances and happenings, body art, street art.

What emerges is how crucial the concept of history was in punk at that point in time. The punk movement's rejection of the tale of progress and prosperity, as it was being propagated on both sides of the iron curtain, evidently manifested itself in punk visual art too. Central to the book is the thesis that punks placed themselves as the rear-guards, not the avant-gardes, a statement which was in made by Danish punks in 1981, when they called themselves “bagtropperne". Behind the rear-guard watchword was the rejection of the inherent notion of progress that the avant-garde name brings with it; how could a "no future" movement want to lead the way?

Although aimed at students and scholars of art, design, music and performance history, the subject as well as the author’s accessible, occasionally playful style will no doubt draw readers with an interest in punk, music, and urban histories.

Marie Arleth Skov is a Danish art historian and curator living in Berlin and the international affiliate of the Punk Scholars Network in Germany and Denmark. She works at the crossroads of art, sexuality and music, with a main historical focus on surrealism and the punk movement of the 1970s–1980s. Most recently, she co-curated the exhibition Claudia Skoda. Dressed to Thrill at Kulturforum, Berlin. She has previously written several articles as well as book chapters on punk x art.

Acknowledgements

1 Prelude

   1.1 What are we looking at? A punk art movement?

   1.2 Negations, conflicts, and swindles: The elusiveness of punk

   1.3 Case in point: The first Punk Art exhibition, 1978

   1.4 Forty-five years of trying to capture the art in punk

2 Art Origins in the Story of Punk

   2.1 The short version: From proto to post

   2.2 Art school vs. hard school

   2.3 Punk precursors: 1919, 1966, 1968

   2.4 DIY: The DNA of punk

3 Pop Multiples, Camp Affirmations

   3.1 Andy Warhol: "Hero of the Punks"

   3.2 Hedonism as attack

   3.3 Trash and travesty

4 The Weapons of the Underdog

   4.1 Punk propaganda

   4.2 Punk poetry

   4.3 Crime as art, scandal as art

5 Art with No Future?

   5.1 Originality and appropriation

   5.2 Modernity in extremis

   5.3 Avant-garde vs. rear-guard

6 Children Run Riot: The Art of the Infantile

   6.1 Dead end kids

   6.2 The Life of Sid Vicious: The sad, dead boy

   6.3 "Infancy conforms to nobody"

7 Work vs. Play

   7.1 Punk's homo ludens

   7.2 Ingenious dilletantes

   7.3 The Baby Wagner Lullaby, or: Brilliance blackout

8 SEX

   8.1 Queer punks and dykes in high heels 

   8.2 Defiant prostitutes, porn artists & well-dressed whores 

   8.3 Sadism and submission

   8.4 Punk feminism: Vamp up!

9 Pain and Presence

   9.1 Performances and punches 

   9.2 "It hurts and looks cool!": Fetish fashion

   9.3 Real romance?

10 Dystopian with a Twist 

   10.1 It's the end of the world

   10.2 The Grand Downfall Show

   10.3 Broken heroes, aces of failure

11 The Laws of the Lawless 

List of Interviews and Archives

Notes

Bibliography

Index

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