Andrew Krivine had one hell of a summer vacation. When the Westchester native was 16 years old, he would spend summers with his aunts and uncles London, but it wasn’t just vacationing families invading the U.K. in 1977. Punk rock had been hatched a few months earlier when The Damned released the "New Rose" single, and London was lousy with bondage-pants-wearing, Mohawked and safety-pinned youth. Krivine was thrilled.
Fortuitously, his cousin ran Boy, a famous shop that catered to the budding scene, so the young American was able to observer the burgeoning punk scene from a front-row seat. "In the summer of ’77, that was when Boy was really taking off, even though that scene really began— well, people argue about it—in late ’75 or mid-’76," Krivine says. "My cousin had this shop, and I would hang out. I heard the Clash record for the first time there, and I remember thinking, It’s just noise. I mean, the first couple of days I listened to that record, Joe Strummer’s voice was indecipherable and then it just struck me, I became entranced."
That summer, Krivine began sporting creepers and zippered pants and hording posters heralding album and single releases and handbills for gigs. Now, 34 years later, the stockpile he amassed has grown to over 1,000 pieces of memorabilia, including rare fliers, posters and badges that will be on display in an exhibit called Rude And Reckless: Punk/Post- Punk Graphics, 1976-82 at Steven Kasher Gallery in Chelsea beginning July 21.
The haul that fills Krivine’s Midtown apartment and a Bronx storage space wasn’t collected in a single summer, however. "In ’77 I collected a few posters and handbills, flyers, which you’ll see in the show, but what happened is that I went back in the summer of ’78 and I was in London for two months, and that’s when I really was able to harvest," he says. "I really built the collection up over several years, because the punk and new wave was really from ’77 to ’79. Then I did my junior year abroad in England, and would go to record stores there and collect materials. And that was really with the post-punk era—Echo and the Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes, Gang of Four. There were so many great groups that were inspired by the punk groups. And I would also go down to London and go to Rough Trade, and I got several posters from Rough Trade in the 1980 to ’81 period.
So you’ll see at the show, it’s pretty well represented—punk and new wave through post-punk and nowave."
The show, which will feature over 200 works—about 20 percent of Krivine’s collection—is made up of works that gallerist Kasher decided were strong enough to exhibit even though he’s not himself nostalgic for X-Ray Spex flyers or Essential Logic paraphernalia.
"I’m not a very big fan of punk music," Kasher says, "but… I really was amazed to see the graphic inventiveness of the imagery and the design. I was looking at this and thought, This is a show that every young artist should see. It’s so gritty and it sticks in your teeth. It’s selling or promoting bands, but the bands are so full of counter-cultural resistance and the graphics capture that."
Krivine cites the work of cult hero British graphic artist Barney Bubbles, who designed the first Generation X single as well as album covers for The Damned and Elvis Costello, as some of the most impressive in the show. (Bubbles has been widely recognized as one of the great talents of the genre and has been posthumously celebrated as the subject of a coffee table book, Reasons To Be Cheerful.) Equally remarkable, though, are items made by anonymous artists, including local flavor-like flyers from 1970s and ’80s shows at CBGBs and a Xeroxed page advertising a bill of Patti Smith and Television at Max’s Kansas City.
While Krivine wasn’t thinking about his collection as fine art when he began hoarding punk ephemera, the impact of the work is becoming more and more apparent. "The entire collection, including everything in the show, is on hold for a show at a major museum," Kasher notes. "It’s a testimony to the importance of the work."
Krivine’s hoping others feel the same way. He’s currently working on a coffeetable book to include a number of the images from his collection, in addition to text about the design and artwork that emerged from the punk underground. "I want to do something," he says, "that acknowledges and recognizes that this stuff is real modern art."
>> Rude And Reckless: Punk/Post-Punk Graphics, 1976-82
Opens July 21, Steven Kasher Gallery,
521 W. 23rd St. (betw. 10th & 11th Aves.), www. stevenkasher.com.