New Order at Sprüth Magers

New Order: Art, Product, Image 1976 – 1995, a group exhibition curated by writer Michael Bracewell that surveys identity and image in British art, culture, and society between 1976 and 1995, is a remarkable exhibition presented by Sprüth Magers in London.

Highlights include videos by Angus Fairhurst, Gary Hume, Sam Taylor-Johnson, and Damien Hirst and Angus Fairhurst collaboratively are watched over by a teenage Sarah Lucas reading the New Musical Express.

The dawn of the punk era and the societal changes it heralded roughly twenty years prior to the YBAs are presented in Karen Knorr and Olivier Richon’s photographs of punks in the anarchic clubs of London’s West End in 1976 and ‘77. They self-consciously pose rather than being the subject of a simple fly-on-the-wall documentary style, the subjects, notably mostly women, thereby appearing both candid and confrontational, sharply lit by the flashgun.

Peter Saville’s work for Factory Records exemplifies the ways in which pioneering excursions into post-modernity could be brought to the mass markets commanded by popular culture. His record sleeve for New Order’s Blue Monday was a work of art that anyone could buy from the record shop, designed by Saville with full autonomy from the band and Factory’s chaotic embassy of creative ideology. This is a must-see exhibition.

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Image: Installation view of ‘New Order: Art, Product, Image 1976 – 1995’, Sprüth Magers, London. Photography: Voytek Ketz, London.