Bryan Ray Turcotte, author the classic chronicle of punk rock handbills and posters, Fucked Up + Photocopied, has one of the largest private collections of punk rock-related ephemera in the world—he’s a one-man Smithsonian Institute of the counterculture, truly a maven’s maven.
When I got advance notice that one of the world’s most prominent archivists and historians on the matter of punk rock’s graphic design had made (with Bo Bushnell) a film about Black Flag and Raymond Pettibon , I was expecting something pretty great and… it’s excellent!
It went live this morning. I got the link a little while ago and promptly sat down and watched the whole thing:
On the first episode of “The Art of Punk” we dissect the art of the legendary Black Flag. From the iconic four bars symbols, to the many coveted and collected gig flyers, singles, and band t-shirts, all depicting the distinctive Indian ink drawn image and text by artist Raymond Pettibon. We start off in Los Angeles talking to two founding members, singer Keith Morris and bass player Chuck Dukowski, about what the scene was like in 1976 - setting the stage for the band’s formation, as well as the bands name, and the creation of the iconic four bars symbol. Raymond Pettibon talks with us from his New York art studio. Back in LA we meet with Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, about how the art, the music, and that early LA scene impacted his own life and career. To wrap it all up we sit and talk at length, with Henry Rollins, at MOCA Grand Ave in Los Angeles, about all of the above and more.
What’s so compelling about this piece is how filmmakers Turcotte and Bushnell tell you a story that you haven’t already heard a gazillion times before by focusing in on the graphics and how important an iconic logo was back then for outsider kids to rally around, wear on their chests or have etched into their flesh.
In the film, Flea makes, I thought, an especially valuable contribution, because he was young enough then (like Rollins himself was, of course) to have been in the audience and he speaks to how seeing a group like Black Flag could change your direction in life. From what I have heard from a number of people, Flea’s supposed to have an absolutely first rate modern art collection. He’s really inspired when he speaks here.
A production of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. New MOCAtv episodes exploring the visual identities of Dead Kennedys and Crass will debut soon at the MOCAtv YouTube channel
Above, Flea in his Pettibon-festooned bathroom
Thank you Tim NoPlace!