On Saturday, June 25, Torn Apart: Punk, New Wave + the Graphic Aftermath, 1976-86 opens at the PDC Design Gallery at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.
Organized and curated by CalArts Graphic Design faculty Michael Worthington, Torn Apart is the largest exhibition of punk and new wave graphic design ever shown on the West Coast. Featuring nearly 1,000 pieces of graphic design ephemera produced between 1976 and 1986, mostly from England and the U.S., the show includes posters, flyers, publications, zines, clothing, stickers, and buttons from the bands, performers, and media that helped define punk and new wave.
“And while the exhibition is concerned with music history to some extent, it is more than anything, very deliberately and unapologetically a graphic design exhibition,” said Worthington. “This exhibition taps into the duality of graphic ephemera: simultaneously worthless yet priceless, ubiquitous yet treasures. What would any of us give to own the lost treasures of our youth? These graphic works, made by trained and untrained designers, are the visual representations of subculture at the height of its power. These works become indexical traces of our lost past, emotional tokens/totems that act as vehicles for time travel.”
Starting with the visual explosion that occurred when punk – both the music and formative subculture – was born, Torn Apart tracks the journey until punk imploded, producing a broad range of aesthetics and agendas in its wake, permanently piercing mainstream design culture. As the exhibition explains, “The lasting influence and legacy of punk and new wave still lingers in the air today.”
Items were pulled from author and collector Andrew Krivine’s Too Fast to Live collection, one of the largest private collections of punk and post-punk graphic design and memorabilia in the world. Krivine’s cousin, John Krivine, founded the seminal punk stores Acme Attractions and BOY in 1970s London. Displayed alongside posters and flyers from more than 70 era-defining bands and performers are vintage punk photographs by renowned music photographer Sheila Rock.
On view until Sept. 8, Torn Apart includes work by well-known designers including Barney Bubbles, Jamie Reid, Malcolm Garrett, Peter Saville, Chris Morton, Vivienne Westwood, Mike Coles, Gee Vaucher, Winston Smith, and Raymond Pettibon. It also features works by designers lesser known in the U.S. such as John Angus, Martin Kaye, X3, and Alex McDowell, alongside pieces made by the musicians themselves, and a plethora of unknown and uncredited designers, both amateur and professional.