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The Art of Punk

Russ Bestley

Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Dec. 7, 2012

The Ties That Bind

The Art of Punk

by Russ Bestley and Alex Ogg
Voyageur Press, 224 pp., $40

If writing about music is like dancing about architecture, how lucky that a volume predicated on the visual art of punk can avoid the Moscow Ballet describing the Texas School Book Depository. Subtitled The Illustrated History of Punk Rock Design, this boutique repository presents page after color-filled, eye-grabbing page of album covers, concert posters, band flyers, zines, and Xeroxed stickers from the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, and others as known and revered. From the Lurkers, the Adverts, and others more obscure, to a wide and scattered spectrum of performers and provocateurs from around the globe, The Art of Punk preserves more than three decades of DIY aesthetics that have only recently become reduced to a Halloween costume your more hyperactive kiddos might opt to wear. Bestley and Ogg, whose visceral appreciation of the genre is more than matched by their academic researches into it, provide not only their own informed remarks to contextualize the array of images, but also frequent interviews with and commentary by many of the musicians, designers, and artists responsible for this captured gallery of visuals that riled the fuck out of everybody back in the late 1970s and continue to raise a righteous ruckus here in the 21st century.

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