12 May 2004
Neo-modernist abstraction 
The May issue of Art Monthly contains a great article by Mark Prince on the crossover between the art and pop worlds. Factory Records was at the vanguard of this initiative with the commissioning of Lawrence Weiner as detailed in this extract: "In the early 80s, Factory Records boss Tony Wilson commissioned Laurence Weiner and Barbara Kruger to design posters to advertise bands from the label who were playing in New York. Despite the radical shift in context, Weiner notably retained the conceptual tenets of his other work as much as he departed from them. As in his installations, text is used in a temporary site-specific situation to denote a thing or event occuring elsewhere, but whereas the installations purposely limit design to the efficient transmission of a concrete but finally ambiguous information, the posters are decorative, engaging with a form of neo-modernist abstraction which the functional text deflates."

It goes on to explain the apparent influence of Saville's work on Weiner: "The 100% yellow horizontal stripes of Weiner's 1985 poster for Section 25 fitted the aesthetic which Peter Saville had already developed in the first Factory posters from the late 70s, when he was still studying in Manchester. His career trajectory has taken him in the opposite direction, with the recent attempts from various sides to appropriate his design for an art context; his collaboration with John Currin for Pulp's This is Hardcore sleeve, and the introduction of apparently non-commissioned computer-generated abstract 'paintings' in the latter parts of the recent survey of his work at the Design Museum. But the early album covers for Joy Division and New Order, with their willingness to delve into the past for material to reanimate, now seem closer to recent design-based art, than Saville's later work."

Read the full article here.

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Peter Saville colour wheel
A Certain Ratio

"Manchester, 1978. In the beginning there were four: Jez Kerr (bass), Martin Moscrop (guitar/trumpet), Peter Terrel (guitar/effects) and Simon Topping (vocals/trumpet). Four thin boys with a name borrowed from a Brian Eno record, the intense, drummerless quartet initially drew influence from Wire, Eno, the Velvets and Kraftwerk, and gained a manager in Anthony Wilson of Factory Records.

"May 1979 saw the release of their first ACR single, the dark All Night Party, although the sound and musicianship of the band would be transformed by the arrival of funky drummer Donald Johnson (DoJo) in August. Over the next few months the band gigged widely, often with Joy Division as part of Factory packages, and recorded demos with producer Martin Hannett as well as a Peel session. Their support slot with Talking Heads on their UK tour in December 1979 set David Byrne on a new course, and provided the compelling live half of their chic cassette package The Graveyard and the Ballroom. Post-punk, ACR now reflected the influence of Funkadelic, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, The Bar Kays and James Brown."

- intro to ACR Biography by James Nice (LTM)

The Durutti Column