Parallel Lines

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Exploring the connections between the exponents of hip-hop, disco and punk in the late 1970s and early 1980s and artists such as Keith Haring, who had his antecedents in Andy Warhol and his Factory, and looking at the music videos of Blondie and Grace Jones.

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  • This lecture is part of the series that looks at the connections between the music scene and the art scene generally. Today I am specifically exploring the connections between the exponents of hip-hop, disco and punk in the late 1970s and early 1980s and artists such as Keith Haring, who had his antecedents in Andy Warhol and his Factory, and looking at the music videos of Blondie and Grace Jones.
  • Discussions of mid, to late 20th century music and art usually focus on the well trodden Notable collaborations Beatles and Peter Blake Yoko Ono "Ceiling Painting" (or the "YES Painting") (Anecdotes of Lennon and Ono’s meeting and the subsequent mutual artistic exchanges between them) Celebrated most recently in the exhibition SUMMER OF LOVE: ART OF THE PSYCHEDELIC ERA Psychedelic rock of the 60s (The Beatles, The Byrds)
  • The aesthetics and politics of psychedelia are quite rightly celebrated because they not only made their mark in popular culture but also left distinct traces in the work of major artists of the period. For example Andy Warhol’s pioneering slide and film projection performances at the Velvet Underground live shows.
  • Context The 1960s were a decade of protests, social revolution and MOST significantly IN THIS DISCUSSION, the end of deference. Students being amongst the first to sense the zeitgeist challenged the status quo with pro-situ happenings which attacked expertise. The socio-political turmoil reached its peak in May 68 with the Paris student uprising when 30,000 students clashed with police. French workers came out in support with a general strike which almost toppled the government. ART STUDENTS IN LONDON, HORSEY AFFAIR. These events profoundly and irrevocably changed social attitudes and were a catalyst for one of the most significant intellectual shifts resulting from a newfound scepticism of hierarchical structures of power. AND POWER IS AN AREA OF THIS DISCUSSION THAT I WILL BE RETURNING TO.
  • It is against the backdrop of these events and places that artists and musicians began to shape their worldview. They began producing work that reflected their social and political reality. One notable example being the struggle of black people to gain political recognition and another being the rise of an antiauthoritarian view that was manifest in the Punk DIY ethos. An associated punk subculture emerged, expressing youthful rebellion and characterized by distinctive clothing styles and a variety of anti-authoritarian ideologies. Robert Mapplethorpe Andy Warhol, Deborah Harry, Grace Jones, and Patti Smith (a Patti Smith portrait from 1986 recalls Albrecht Durer's 1500 self-portrait
  • Martin Luther King After World War Two, a broad movement against racist institutions and stereotypes developed in many Western societies. Civil rights organisations in the United States protested against negative stereotypes of African-Americans and against institutional racism and discrimination.The 1960s and 1970s introduced popular images of black emancipation - 'black pride', 'black is beautiful', 'black power', 'black solidarity'. Derogatory images of black people were gradually pushed back and, along with a stronger presence of black people in media, more positive and 'normal' images appeared. It is with this recent history I want to discuss the rise of Hip-Hop and its connections to Graffiti art and mainstream music.
  • Preamble over. Some of the artists I am going to be talking about had their origins in the illegal graffiti art in New York in the 1980s. Their work was figurative and narrative in a neo-expressionistic style; they painted with references to both popular culture and to traditional art. WHY THE 1980S, POSTMODERNISM New York was in recession. It is in this context that the NY subways and streets were graffiti-tagged with provocative images that shocked the establishment. It was only a few years till gallery owners fought to have them, the art dealers lined up and the art was sold for remarkably high prices. Several artists were active in the milieu associated with Andy Warhol's studio, The Factory.
  • In the early 1980s there was a fear that New York was a corrupt city and the explosion of Graffiti Art exemplified this lack of authority or civil order, a symbol of decadent New York at that time. It was the height of the Regan era, with its Cold War paranoia, intensified by growing nuclear fears, and inner cities and civic institutions in a state of increased upheaval and decay. Influenced by a mix of popular commercial culture, inner city economics and social terms Graffiti Art was seen as a challenge to the middle class and elite aesthetics, however it is more accurately linked to the rapid gestation of the hip hop movement. Because they share similar spaces and media, graffiti art is often confused with gang graffiti. There are differences in both form and intent. The purpose of graffiti art is self-expression and creativity, and may involve highly stylised letter forms on walls, buildings, and freight trains. Graffiti artists strive to improve their art, which is constantly changing and progressing. The purpose of gang graffiti, on the other hand, is to mark territorial boundaries, and is therefore limited to a gangs neighbourhood; it does not presuppose artistic intent. Hip hop encompasses graffiti, rapping, DJing and break dancing.
  • Initially Graffiti Art had been a form of recreation, allowing young people to create a sense of community for themselves and connected to a sense of place and self identity. However by the early 1980s the art world had officially collided with graffiti culture, it was being brought to the attention of the galleries and middle classes with a shift from tag based territorial bombing to large scale mural throw ups towards more gallery recognisable work. Graffiti Art had moved beyond the transit system and was no longer pursued only by young teenagers as a lifestyle but as a professional practice. Graffiti became a prominent force in urban settings in the late 20th century and mention of the word conjures up many different images in people's minds - is it art or is it vandalism? a cause of the urban decay or a product from it? The scope of attitudes towards graffiti is wide and controversial.
  • It is now recognised that it was an emerging youth culture that now reaches into every corner of art, fashion, and entertainment.
  • Manhattan’s East Village, with its long and charged history as a stronghold of radical bohemianism was the location of the Fun Gallery. Firmly rooted in the alternative sub culture and connected to music and to the club scene it was established in 1981 by underground film star Patti Astor and her partner Bill Stelling. The Fun Gallery featured the works of many of the era’s most influential artists and holds an important place in Graffiti Art history. It was instrumental in reintroducing the underground art form into the mainstream art world in the early 1980s. However, the Fun Gallery had a different mentality; it was experimental and less commercially orientated, refusing to let artists produce canvases, instead encouraging mural based work on the wall. It facilitated the growth and the development of the artist’s work without compromise of their street credibility.
  • As an actress Patti Astor stared in over a dozen low- budget features including the legendary hip-hop epic WILD STYLE, the film also stared Fred Braithwaite (Fab Five Freddy) who also produced the soundtrack album. The film dramatises the pivotal moment when New York Graffiti culture entered the art world and was popularised by the media. It should be asserted that many graffiti writers do not call their work graffiti, but rather writing.
  • In 2007 t he graffiti world was excited by the discovery of a wall covered with the tags of old school superstars Fab Five Freddy, Futura 2000, Jean-Michel Basquiat and others. Being slightly flip.. CULTURALLY AS IMPORTANT AS…
  • The Fun Gallery mixed together genuine graffiti artists like Fred Braithwaite who was immersed in the burgeoning graffiti scene on the streets and in the subway system of the city, with the likes of Keith Haring who was not a graffiti artist, but a professionally trained artist who adopted a graffiti style. Subway trains were the primary site of Graffiti Art, as trains are publicly visible spaces that cross and connect neighbourhood boundaries and are central to the life of the city.
  • Haring was a graphic arts student dropout who drew heavily on the city's graffiti culture and gained mass recognition for chalking hundreds of images on the New York subway. In 1980, he participated in a seminal "street art" show at Times Square with Basquiat and also painted murals on venues due for demolition across the world, only turning to work on canvas in 1985. He went on to appear on MTV and body-painted the singer Grace Jones for a pop video. Music videos were along with relatively inexpensive and easy to use video recording and editing equipment were two key innovations of the 1980s. The advent of high-quality colour videotape recorders and portable video cameras coincided with the DIY ethos of the New Wave era, enabling many pop acts to produce promotional videos quickly and cheaply.
  • Keith Haring (1958-1990), The narrative of the East Village cannot be relayed without giving attention to the devastating role played by AIDS, in terms of the resulting deaths of many of the leading figures and some of the work created at the time and in the neighbourhoods eventual demise as a gallery district. The AIDS virus was discovered in 1984 as a virus of primarily gay men. This discovery has an impact on the personal lives,and the careers of many artists including Keith Haring who was diagnosed with AIDS. He spent much of his career in a creative response to the AIDS crisis. Haring saw art as an activist statement promoting societal awareness to the political, health, and cultural problems associated with the virus. Haring was part of the graffiti art movement.
  • Haring forged an entirely fresh aesthetic, with roots in punk, hip hop and the late 70s craze for street graffiti. Haring was a populist and this is borne out by his graffiti, accessible pop imagery, his many community projects undertaken for free and his Pop Shop boutique in New York. He became a good friend of Andy Warhol, echoing Warhol’s discarding the distinctions between high and commercial art. It was Warhol who introduced Haring to the performer Grace Jones with whom he collaborated with. SHOW “I’M NOT PERFECT” BY JONES Jones wore body paint and outfits designed by artist Keith Haring. Warhol features in the video too
  • The alternative New York art scene of the early 1980s was marked by widely recognized artists who stayed close to the streets and popular culture. It was multicultural, urban, inclusive, and plugged into the dance club circuit in which Grace Jones gained prominence.
  • Dance clubs like Paradise Garage was among the venues of the alternative scene that enjoyed a certain social cachet. These clubs were popular rendezvous for artists, musicians and actors. Not just musical events took place here, but also exhibitions and live performances. In a convergence of art and music Jones collaborated with Haring in two live performances staged at Paradise Garage in 1985. For the performances Haring hand painted Jones’ body in his characteristically stylised hieroglyphic white designs, inspired by the body paintings of the African Masai. Jones also adorned her body with an elaborate sculptural assemblage.
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  • Jones's performances embodied a negotiation of two of the most crucial issues during that period: art in relation to popular culture and modernist conceptions of ‘Primitivism’ reinterpreted by modernism's black female ‘Other’. According to Haring, (who had studied semiotics) Jones was a signifier for everything he admired in the global crossroads of postmodern New York. Through the painting, adornment, and importantly through her performance, Jones played with iconic signs of the ‘primitive’, and transformed these signifiers and her body into a site of power. Here I have referenced three important terms which frame this discussion to a great extent. POWER, MODERNISM ND POSTMODERNISM EXPLAIN! Postmodernism refutes Modernist goals (universal, natural) Distortions set up by Modernism such as: Historical progress of art, natural, timeless order shattered Linear and singular dispensed, in their place heterogeneity Idealised notion of other cultures, projection of a fantasy of what that culture is (e.g. Gauguin) assumptions
  • And as this quote by Owen’s states, we can’t look at identity in isolation, we need therefore to place questions of identity in the context of history, language and power. With its emphasis on specific identities which challenged formalist beliefs in a universal art (created overwhelmingly by and for a specific demographic group, white, western, heterosexual men of the middle upper class), postmodernism reflect broader social critiques of hierarchies based on ethnicity, gender, sexuality and class. The thematic complex of the body, gender, identity, race etc, all acquired greater significance in art since the 1970s. Issues of identity are crucial to postmodernism
  • The emerging overlap between punk and hip hop, of which Haring was so much a part, became explicit in 1981, when The Times Square Show, a watershed exhibition organised by avant garde collective Colab (Collaborative Projects, Inc) brought writers and post punk artists together, just as graffiti art began to appear in alternative art spaces. A good example is the video for New Wave band Blondie’s 1981 hit ‘Rapture’, where Debbie Harry struts around a yard, rapping about the New York graffiti artists, Colab were a group of artists interested in making art and building audiences outside of the conventional art world. The video featured graffiti artists Fab Five Freddy as the ‘man from mars’ and Jean Michel Basquait. Rapture is widely recognised as the first number one rap hit. Debbie Harry and Blondie were close to the Warhol-Haring-Boho New York art scene of the early 80’s. SHOW RAPTURE
  • Fred Braithwaite, aka Fab Five Freddy, has a career that spans the sudden rise of hip hop culture, he was in many ways, one of the avatars of hip hop’s current cultural dominance. He has been a nationally exhibited painter, an actor, a screenwriter and a rapper but he entered the underground culture as a popular graffiti artist.
  • Haring's graphics, meanwhile, decorated the cover of Scratchin' - A Six Track Hip-hop Party Mix, the 1984 album by ex-punk Malcolm McLaren and The World's Famous Supreme Team Show.
  • In the mid-1980’s Warhol championed the work of Basquiat and Haring.
  • Directed by the artist Julian Schnabel Warhol played by David Bowie Schnabel inserts his own work into Warhol’s studio
  • I want to conclude by reiterating my opening gambit. Although the connection between the art scene and the music industry was first established in the 1960s, the 1980s forged an unprecedented bond between art, music and nightclubs. It was a seminal moment in the potent fusion of art and music. The New York scene was a deliberate attempt to constitute a culture with a synthesis of key elements, dance, music and art. Its elements were adopted in varying degrees, most notably the music industry had the ability and finance to spread Hip Hop music further than the art world did graffiti. The graffiti movement was a generally isolated phenomenon with only a few artists establishing careers in the art world within New York.
  • Parallel Lines

    1. 1. PARALLEL LINES The Birth Of Hip Hop, Disco And Punk
    2. 2. Connections between the music scene and the art scene Specifically looking at connections between the exponents of hip-hop, disco and punk in the late 1970s and early 1980s and artists such as Keith Haring, who had his antecedents in Andy Warhol and his Factory, and looking at the music videos of Blondie and Grace Jones.
    3. 3. Notable collaborations Celebrated most recently in the exhibition SUMMER OF LOVE: ART OF THE PSYCHEDELIC ERA Beatles and Peter Blake
    4. 4. The aesthetics and politics of psychedelia are quite rightly celebrated because they not only made their mark in popular culture but also left distinct traces in the work of major artists of the period. For example Andy Warhol’s pioneering slide and film projection performances at the Velvet Underground live shows.
    5. 5. Context: The 1960s were a decade of protests, social revolution and MOST significantly IN THIS DISCUSSION, the end of deference. These events profoundly and irrevocably changed social attitudes and were a catalyst for one of the most significant intellectual shifts resulting from a newfound scepticism of hierarchical structures of power.
    6. 6. It is against the backdrop of these events and places that artists and musicians began to shape their worldview. They began producing work that reflected their social and political reality. Patti Smith
    7. 7. It is with this recent history I want to discuss the rise of Hip-Hop and its connections to Graffiti art and mainstream music.
    8. 9. In the early 1980s there was a fear that New York was a corrupt city and the explosion of Graffiti Art exemplified this lack of authority or civil order, a symbol of decadent New York at that time.
    9. 11. It is now recognised that it was an emerging youth culture that now reaches into every corner of art, fashion, and entertainment.
    10. 12. The Fun Gallery featured the works of many of the era’s most influential artists and holds an important place in Graffiti Art history. It was instrumental in reintroducing the underground art form into the mainstream art world in the early 1980s.
    11. 13. The legendary hip-hop epic WILD STYLE, stared Fred Braithwaite (Fab Five Freddy) who also produced the soundtrack album. The film dramatises the pivotal moment when New York Graffiti culture entered the art world and was popularised by the media.
    12. 14. In 2007 the graffiti world was excited by the discovery of a wall covered with the tags of old school superstars Fab Five Freddy, Futura 2000, Jean-Michel Basquiat and others.
    13. 15. The Fun Gallery mixed together genuine graffiti artists like Fred Braithwaite who was immersed in the burgeoning graffiti scene on the streets and in the subway system of the city, with the likes of Keith Haring who was not a graffiti artist, but a professionally trained artist who adopted a graffiti style.
    14. 18. Haring forged an entirely fresh aesthetic, with roots in punk, hip hop and the late 70s craze for street graffiti Haring and Grace Jones
    15. 19. The alternative New York art scene of the early 1980s was marked by widely recognized artists who stayed close to the streets and popular culture. It was multicultural, urban, inclusive, and plugged into the dance club circuit in which Grace Jones gained prominence.
    16. 22. <ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Haring’s body painting and the costume design reinforced those elements of Jones’ performance that upheld those subcultures’ common interest in parodic, theatrical, and inventive exploitations of appearance,…The painted Grace Jones is a monument to cultural stereotyping…The synthesised sound of much of Jones’ music at that time, its fusion of Reggae with New Wave robotic rhythms, added a futuristic reference.’ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>PEARLMAN, ALISON, Unpackaging Art of the 1980s, The University of Chicago Press, USA, 2003, p92 </li></ul></ul></ul>
    17. 23. Jones's performances embodied a negotiation of two of the most crucial issues during that period: art in relation to popular culture and modernist conceptions of ‘Primitivism’ reinterpreted by modernism's black female ‘Other’ .
    18. 24. REPRESENTATION IS NOT NEUTRAL; IT IS AN ACT OF POWER IN OUR CULTURE. Craig Owens, 1992
    19. 25. <ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Fab Five Freddy told me everybody’s high, DJ’s spinnin are savin’ my mind’ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>BLONDIE, Rapture </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>The video featured graffiti artists Fab Five Freddy as the ‘man from mars’ and Jean Michel Basquait. Rapture is widely recognised as the first number one rap hit. Debbie Harry and Blondie were close to the Warhol-Haring-Boho New York art scene of the early 80’s.
    20. 26. <ul><ul><ul><li>“ I always say that the beginning of the Fun (Gallery) was when I met Fab Five Freddy in 1981...Fred had gotten on the tip of the downtown scene with Blondie and ‘Rapture’…” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Patti Astor Interview @ 149st, </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    21. 30. Although the connection between the art scene and the music industry was first established in the 1960s, the 1980s forged an unprecedented bond between art, music and nightclubs. It was a seminal moment in the potent fusion of art and music. The New York scene was a deliberate attempt to constitute a culture with a synthesis of key elements, dance, music and art. Its elements were adopted in varying degrees, most notably the music industry had the ability and finance to spread Hip Hop music further than the art world did graffiti. The graffiti movement was a generally isolated phenomenon with only a few artists establishing careers in the art world within New York.

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