Glam! The Performance Of Style: Locating The Early 1970s Phenomenon

Kenny putting on make up, Nan Goldin, Boston, 1973

Kenny putting on make up, Nan Goldin, Boston, 1973

 

“Perhaps it is a matter of displacement – that slippery moment when art becomes commerce, shifting back again into the cultural arena as another kind of commodity. The fact is, even today, few among us are willing to acknowledge that certain mass culture forms and practices may comprise the most significant ‘culture’ of our time, precisely because of their ‘popular’ characteristics” – Marcia Tucker and William Olander, New Museum Of Contemporary Art, 1988.

 

In the 25 years since Tucker and Olander made this statement, the displacement they sought to define has become, if anything, more slippery.

For this reason alone, Liverpool Tate curator Darren Pih must be applauded for negotiating such tricky waters with Glam! The Performance Of Style, the exhibition he curated in an attempt to locate the early 70s glam-rock phenomenon in the context not just of a certain area of artistic practice of the period but also more broadly the interplay between “high” and mass culture.

 

Fashion spread featuring Mr Freedom and Ossie Clark designs, Nova, May 1970

Fashion spread featuring Mr Freedom and Ossie Clark designs, Nova, May 1970

 

Front cover, West One magazine, February 1974.

Front cover, West One magazine, February 1974. Courtesy Ian Harris

 

I was among those who assisted Pih in his selection and helped source exhibits, including some from my own archive. Tate Liverpool reflects Glam’s geographical duality by creating distinct US and UK “Glamscapes” – juxtapositions of fashion, film, photography, printed material and ephemera – which enhance the presence of work by such artists as Richard Hamilton, David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Sigmar Polke and Cindy Sherman.

Between the Glamscapes is a new adaptation of Marc Camille Chaimowicz’s contemplative installation Celebration?, which was originally created in 1972, while John MacManus’s footage of Salford Roxy Music fans provides an insight into how Glam played out in the north-west of England.

 

Kansai Yamamoto designs photographed by Clive Arrowsmith, Vogue UK, October 1971

Kansai Yamamoto designs photographed by Clive Arrowsmith, Vogue UK, October 1971

 

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Glamscape US: Andy Warhol/Max's Kansas City, New York

Glamscape US: Andy Warhol/Max’s Kansas City, New York

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Little Woman At Home, Margaret Harrison, 1971

Little Woman At Home, Margaret Harrison, 1971

Celebration? Marc Camille Chaimowicz, 197

Celebration? Marc Camille Chaimowicz, 197

From Roxette, John McManus, 16mm film, 1977, courtesy: North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University

From Roxette, John McManus, 16mm film, 1977, courtesy: North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University

From Roxette, John McManus, 16mm film, 1977, courtesy: North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University

Trevor Myles of Paradise Garage with tiger-stripe flock covered Ford Mustang by Electric Colour Company, 1971. Photo: David Parkinson

Trevor Myles of Paradise Garage with tiger-stripe flock covered Ford Mustang by Electric Colour Company, 1971. Photo: David Parkinson

Candy Darling on her deathbed, 1974, Peter Hujar

Candy Darling on her deathbed, 1974, Peter Hujar

 

You can still catch the show here.