ROLL OVER, PICASSO
" If MTV is any indication, the face of rock'n'roll needs plastic surgery. Sure,
Britney's got a hot belly and Beyoncé a glorious booty, but sex is this
close to selling itself out. Soon, people will be demanding money shots in their
milk commercials. Where's an intelligent consumer to find imagery that both tickles
the brain and plugs one into popular culture?
Try Paul Grushkin and Dennis King's Art of Modern
Rock, which showcases in full color more than 1600 rock posters and flyers by
some 200 international artists, from veterans like Frank Kozik to up-and-comers à
la Leia Bell. More than a sequel to Art of Rock (Abbeville, 1987) Grushkin's
best-selling survey of psychedelic posters from the 1960s and 1970s this is the definitive
document of a tens-of-thousands-strong countercultural revolution that began in the
late 1980s with the grunge movement and continues today from New York City to San
Francisco to...Des Moines and Denton, TX?
"Wherever there's a 'kid' a teenager, a twentysomething,
or even a thirtysomething who is on the cutting edge of music there's someone cranking
out posters," Grushkin asserts.
In fact, more rock posters have been made in the
last ten years than in the history of rock'n'roll. To hear Grushkin tell it, this
explosion has to do with how today's teenagers access music, i.e., without seeing
great LP art, as Grushkin did in his youth, and, increasingly, without walking into
a music store. With MP3 looming large, "the art that always defined your relationship
to the music" is disappearing.
In the spirit of the hippies, punks, and alternative
rockers before them, young music fans have been filling the void themselves. Via
the Internet, these kids track their favorite bands as they tour and call up promoters
about doing posters for shows. While some may go digital, many still rely on the
old-school (read: cheap) silk-screen method, which King who holds one of the largest
rock poster collections in the world credits with starting the poster revolution.
"It's almost political: all these people realizing
that they have the power to create and disseminate their own imagery," he says.
The insane eclecticism of the featured artists
called for a thematic organization; readers will witness the many incarnations of
that rock poster staple, the devil, for instance. Heightening the effect is King's
clever layout, which mimics both a gallery wall and a web site. The final product
is a pastel-cum-Day-Glo gem that will make music fans into art fans and vice versa."
- Heather McCormack