Unravelling the legacy of the punk aesthetic

In his new book, longtime punk memorabilia collector Andrew Krivine takes a deep dive into the work of some of the big name and less well known creatives behind the music. Here, he tells CR why the visual history of punk goes well beyond its DIY rep

As far as subcultures go, the punk movement still boasts one of the most instantly recognisable aesthetics. The punk bands of the late 70s and early 80s served up a defiant rejection of mainstream rock with their snarling vocals and anti-establishment lyrics, and this was reflected in the visual world they built around them: from Jamie Reid’s aggressive cut-and-paste artwork for the Sex Pistols’ track God Save the Queen, to Pennie Smith’s photograph of The Clash bassist Paul Simonon smashing his bass guitar on stage, which became the cover image for the band’s seminal album, London Calling.

As one of the biggest private collectors of punk graphics in the world, Andrew Krivine is well-versed in the genre’s distinctive visual history. Originally from New York, his punk memorabilia collection began as a happy accident in the summer of 1977, just as the genre was exploding onto the scene with the emergence of bands such as the Ramones in New York and the Damned in London. Aged 16 at the time, Krivine was spending the summer in the UK and went to go and stay in London with his cousin, John Krivine, who was the founder of two stores now synonymous with the punk movement, Acme Attractions and BOY.

Banner image: The Vibrators: 1 V2 LP poster, Epic Records (April 1978), John Ellis artwork; 2 ‘Disco in Moscow’ 45 poster, Rat Race Records (October 1980); 3 tour blank poster (c.1980), John Callan photography. Above: The Clash: poster for The Cost of Living EP, CBS Records (May 1979), Rocking Russian design

“I hadn’t really been fully aware of punk. I knew of the Ramones, I had a very vague idea of it, but then when I was in London that summer I really became marinated in punk rock,” says Krivine. “I remember I would be hanging out in BOY when Don Letts and Jeanette Lee were still working there. Don had a copy of The Clash’s first record and just played it constantly. I remember listening to it and going, ‘this is pure noise, I don’t get this at all’, and then the third or fourth time I’m listening to it and I’m going, ‘oh my god, this is the greatest record I’ve heard in my entire life’. A switch went off in my head, and I realised this was kind of what I was looking for.”