Nevermind the Picassos: '70s Punk Gets Its Due with New Design Exhibit in New York

god save the queen punk sex pistols
More than 400 flyers, posters, album covers, zines, and other ephemera from the punk era will be on view at New York's Museum of Arts and Design. Virgin Records

The punk scene of the 1970s and early 80s burned brightly and briefly, but its impact on culture, style and design can still be felt today. Opening April 9 at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD)  "Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics, 1976–1986" explores the punk and post-punk movements of the U.S. and U.K. through the lens of graphic design.

More than 400 flyers, posters, album covers, promotions, zines, and other ephemera will be on view, along with video interviews with Iggy Pop, Joey and Dee Dee Ramone, Jim Carroll and Billy Name, and archival images from Village Voice photographer Fred W. McDarrah and other who chronicled the birth of punk and post-punk movements like New Wave, goth and the New Romantics.  

“Punk questioned everything," says MAD's Chris Scoates, "and it’s that spirit of inquiry that is driving MAD forward today, presenting and debating innovative works and ideas with lots of energy, color, and noise.”

Originating at Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, the exhibition has been fine-tuned for its debut in New York, a seminal city in punk history. Artifacts on view include flyers from CBGB; concert posters and memorabilia from Blondie and the Ramones, early issues of Punk magazine; and more.

“Punk has always exhibited very visual forms of expression,” said Cranbrook Art Museum director Andrew Blauvelt. “From the dress and hairstyles of its devotees and the onstage theatrics of its musicians to the design of its numerous forms of printed matter, punk’s energy coalesced into a powerful subcultural phenomenon that transcended music.”

 "Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics, 1976-1986" is on view April 9 through August 18, 2019, at the Museum of Art and Design in New York.

Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics 13
PD Rearick; Courtesy of Cranbrook Art Museum

"Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die Punk Graphics, 1976–1986," Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI.

Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics COVER
PD Rearick; Courtesy of Cranbrook Art Museum
Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die Punk Graphics 2
PD Rearick; Courtesy of Cranbrook Art Museum

"Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die Punk Graphics, 1976–1986," Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI.

Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics 11
PD Rearick; Courtesy of Cranbrook Art Museum

"Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die Punk Graphics, 1976–1986," Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI.

Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics 12
PD Rearick; Courtesy of Cranbrook Art Museum

"Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die Punk Graphics, 1976–1986," Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI.

Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics 3
Courtesy Warner Music

Talking Heads, Remain in Light, 1980. Ink on paper. Tibor Kalman (designer) and Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz, Walter Bender and Scott Fisher (artwork).

Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics 9
Courtesy Warner Music

New Order, Movement, 1981. Ink on paper. Peter Saville (designer).

Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics 1
Courtesy Warner Music

Joy Division, Closer, 1980. Ink on paper. Peter Saville (designer).

Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics 4
Courtesy Warner Music

The Smiths, The Boy With the Thorn in His Side, 1985. Ink on paper. Morrissey (designer); Caryn Gough (layout); Cecil Beaton (photographer).

Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics 5
Courtesy John Marchant Gallery Image: Jamie Reid Copyright Sex Pistols Residuals

Sex Pistols, The Great Rock’N’Roll Swindle, 1979. Ink on paper. Jamie Reid (designer), Trevor Key (artwork).

Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics 6
Courtesy Warner Music

Ramones, Road to Ruin, 1978. John Gillespie (art director), Spencer Drate (designer) and John Holmstrom (illustrator).