Peter Hujar (American, 1934-1987), David Wojnarowicz, 1981, Gelatin silver print. 14-11/16 x 14-3/4”, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of David Wojnarowicz, © 2009 Peter Hujar Archive.

New York City, Early 1970s-Early 1980s, Renegades, Musicians, Poets

Jean-Michel Basquiat (American, 1960-1988), Untitled. 1981, Oilstick on paper. 40 x 60", The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Fractional and promised gift of Sheldon H. Solow, 1991, © 2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Nan Goldin (American, born 1953), Nan and Brian in Bed, New York City, 1983, Silver dye bleach print (printed 2006), 15-9/16 x 23-1/4", The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the generosity of Jon L. Stryker, © 2009 Nan Goldin.

Edit deAk (American, born Hungary 1948), Paul Dougherty, and Walter Robinson (American, born 1950), Frankie Teardrop, 1978, Video (color, sound).10:25 min., Music by Suicide, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Gift of Red Star Records, Photo credit: Paul Dougherty.

Stephanie Chernikowski (American, born 1941), Sonic Youth, 1983, Black-and-white photograph, The Museum of Modern Art Library. Gift of the artist.

Laurie Anderson (American, born 1947), O Superman, 1983, Video (color, sound). 8 min., The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Warner Bros. Records, © 2009 Laurie Anderson.

James Nares (British, born 1953), Game, 1975, Video (black and white, sound). 3:05 min., Courtesy the artist and Paul Kasmin Gallery.


Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York
The Yoshiko and Akio Morita Gallery, second floor
Looking at Music: Side 2
June 10-November 30, 2009

Looking at Music: Side 2, a survey of over 120 photographs, music videos, drawings, audio recordings, publications, Super 8 films, and ephemera, looks at New York City from the early 1970s to the early 1980s when the city was a haven for renegade artists who often doubled as musicians and poets. Art and music cross-fertilized with a vengeance following a stripped-down, hard-edged, anti-establishment ethos, with some artists plastering city walls with self-designed posters or spray painted monikers, while others commandeered abandoned buildings, turning vacant garages into makeshift theaters for Super 8 film screenings and raucous performances.

Many artists found the experimental scene more vital and conducive to their contrarian ideas than the few contemporary art galleries in the city. Artists formed bands, performed in clubs and non-profit galleries, and self-published records and zines while using public access cable as a venue for media experiments and cultural debate.

Looking at Music: Side 2 is organized by Barbara London, Associate Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and succeeds Looking at Music (2008), an examination of the interaction between artists and musicians of the 1960s and early 1970s.

The exhibition spans numerous forms of media by a diverse group of artists including: drawings by Patti Smith and photography by Dan Graham, Nan Goldin, and Jimmy DeSana; experimental video by James Nares; issues of influential zines and magazines including Search & Destroy, Interview, and Punk; posters designed by Adrian Piper and Collaborative Projects, Inc. (Colab); prints by Jenny Holzer, Betsey Johnson, and Bern Boyle; music videos with songs by Blondie and Suicide; record covers designed by Kim Gordon, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Raymond Pettibon; music from Television, The Ramones, and Talking Heads; and live band footage from performances at Max’s Kansas City.

Barbara London states: “This exhibition shows how musicians and artists coalesced at a time when New York City, while financially struggling, seemed to incubate innovative ideas and facilitate the phenomenal success of a few, marking the transition into the next, more commercial decade of artists in New York City.”

Outside The Yoshiko and Akio Morita Gallery, Looking at Music: Side 2 is introduced through a title wall designed by New York artist Laurie Anderson. Within the exhibition James Nares’s video, Game (1975), greets viewers at the exhibition’s entrance. Active in the 1970s on the Lower East Side as a Super 8 filmmaker and member of The Del-Byzanteens, Nares concocted a percussive, imaginary board game, performed with Seth Tillett, which he turned into the subject of his experimental film. Nares’s work is accompanied by a monitor displaying segments from Glenn O’Brien’s late 1970s Manhattan Public Access television show, TV Party. Equal parts party, talk show, video art, concert, and political action, TV Party took live television to a place it had never been, including interviews with a number of the artists included in the exhibition.

Also on display are drawings by Patti Smith and an audio station playing her song Hey Joe/Piss Factory (1974), considered to be the first punk rock record and funded by the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Two tracks from The Ramones, widely cited as the first punk rock group, play at a nearby audio station, including Beat on the Brat and Blitzkrieg Bop (1976). In vitrines, poetry from the musician Richard Hell and a record from the German artist Martin Kippenberger’s short-lived musical project with Christine Hahn and Eric Mitchell are on display.

The exhibition next focuses on the work of New York based Colab, a non-profit artist collective distinguished for political engagement and the co-opting of public spaces, including an abandoned building in the heart of Times Square in 1980. In a set of video monitors, works from Colab artists are on display, including Coleen Fitzgibbon, a founding Colab member and instigator of the Times Square Show, which housed socially themed artworks in a derelict Times Square building.

With a background in 1960s structuralist cinema, Fitzgibbon’s Super 8 film transferred to video, Time (1975), is a nonstop visual flow of headlines and text, all drawn from an issue of Time magazine, with the effect of an incessant restlessness of the filmic frame. On a nearby monitor, the music video Frankie Teardrop (1978), set to the New York-based band Suicide, is on display.

This coarsely-textured film-video hybrid combines super-imposed projector manipulations and high-end video post-production. An insightful collaboration between videomaker Paul Dougherty and Art-Rite zine editors Walter Robinson and Edit DeAk, the work interprets a strident song by Suicide about a poverty-stricken Vietnam vet pushed to the edge. These works are surrounded by posters, audio, and a video by Judith Barry, Richard Kern, and the New York band Sonic Youth and the work of Beth and Scott B.

Looking at Music: Side 2 next examines the cross-influence of hip hop and art in New York City, including the video of Rapture (1981) by Blondie. Rapture, the first video to incorporate elements from rap on MTV, opens with choreographer William Barnes dancing in a white suit and top hat in New York’s Upper East Side.

Barnes is joined by Debbie Harry and her bandmates — easy-going, cross-over artists who bridged uptown and downtown scenes. In the final sequence of the music video, the band dances down a street passing Fab 5 Freddy and graffiti artists Lee Quiñones and Jean-Michel Basquiat in action. The video is accompanied by photographs of Basquiat’s graffiti work from the 1970s, by Peter Moore and Stephanie Chernikowski, and a large-scale drawing by the artist, Untitled (1981).

The exhibition concludes with images from five rock n’ roll photographers. Adjacent to a large-scale photographic collage of the work of Bob Gruen, adapted from the 2007 installation Rock and Roll Teenager's Bedroom and measuring 7.5’ x 22.5’, the exhibition includes vitrines with photographs of Suicide by Godlis and Sonic Youth by Stephanie Chernikowski, along with additional photographs by Roberta Bayley and Marcia Resnick.

On a monitor beside these works is Bob Gruen’s New York Death Cult (Live at Max’s Kansas City) (1976), featuring grainy footage from famed music club Max’s Kansas City, which captures the raw, immersive spirit of up-and-coming musicians of that era such as Patti Smith.


Marcia Resnick (American, born 1950), TV Party. Glenn O'Brien's TV Party, NYC. 1980, Black-and-white photograph, The Museum of Modern Art Library. Gift of the artist.

Jim Jarmusch (American, born 1953), Stranger Than Paradise, 1984, USA/West Germany. 35mm print, black and white, sound, 89 min., MoMA Collection, Acquired from the artist.

Patti Smith (American, born 1946), Self Portrait, 1971, Pencil, ballpoint pen, colored pencil, charcoal, and gouache with black-and-white instant print on paper. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist, 1988, © 2009 Patti Smith.

Godlis (American, born 1951), Blondie, CBGB’s. 1977, Black-and-white photograph, The Museum of Modern Art Library, Gift of the artist.


Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York
The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters
Looking at Music: Side 2 Film Series
September-November 2009

A film-and-video series which features works by a selection of video artists and film directors will be screened in The Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters between September and November 2009. The program is organized by Ms. London.

Taxi Driver
. 1976. Directed by Martin Scorsese. A Vietnam war veteran works as nighttime taxi driver in NYC, whose perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge to violently lash out, attempting to save a teenage prostitute in the process. Monday, September 21, 7:00 p.m. T2; Sunday, September 27, 5:00 p.m. T2.

New York Dolls – All Dolled Up. 2005. Directed by Bob Gruen and Nadya Beck. This documentary captures the band during early performances in New York at Kenny's Castaways and Max's Kansas City, then follows the Dolls on their tour of the west coast, including footage from the Whisky A Go Go, the Real Don Steele Show, Rodney Bingenheimer's E Club, and much more. Wednesday, September 23, 4:00 p.m. T2; Monday, September 28, 7:00 p.m. T2.

The Blank Generation.1976. Directed by Ivan Kral, Amos Poe. Amos Poe and Ivan Kral married silent footage with live tapes or demo recordings of bands (most of whom had yet to release a record) to create a deliberately rough audio-visual record of the burgeoning punk scene, including bands such as Blondie, Talking Heads, The Ramones, and The Heartbreakers. Saturday, September 26, 4:00 p.m. T2; Wednesday, September 30, 4:00 p.m. T2.

Blank City. 2009. Directed by Celine Danhier. A documentary about New York City in the late 1970s, when underground filmmakers collaborated with experimental musicians and vanguard performance artists, all on a shoestring budget, to create the most daring work of their generation. Thursday, October 1, 7:00 p.m., T2.

Deadly Art of Survival. 1979. 58 min. Directed by Charlie Ahearn. Charlie Ahearn's first Super-8 feature is a Bruce Lee-style docu-epic, shot in the housing projects of the Lower East Side, with a story revolving around the real and imaginary rivals of an idealistic martial arts school led in actual life by the star of the flick, Nathan Ingram. Underground USA. 1980, 85 min. Directed by Eric Mitchell. In this 16 millimeter film, Victor (played by Eric Mitchell), a street hustler, meets Vicki (played by Patti Astor), a Manhattan movie star who has fallen from fame, at New York venue the Mudd Club. The two entertain each other for a while, but Victor betrays Vicki, leading to a bleak ending. Monday, October 5, 7 p.m., T2; Wednesday, October 7, 4 p.m. T2.

Downtown 81/ New York Beat Movie. 1981 and 2000. Directed by Edo Bertoglio, written by Glenn O’Brien, and produced by O'Brien and Maripol. The story of a charismatic artist (Jean-Michel Basquiat) who attempts to sell a painting amidst the
rappers, junkies, strippers, models and art-world matriarchs on the Lower East Side. With music by Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Tuxedomoon, The Plastics, DNA, The Lounge Lizards, and Basquiat's own band, Gray. Friday, October 2, 7 p.m., T2; Sunday, October 11, 5 p.m., T2.

Men in Orbit. 1979, 33 min. Directed by Lydia Lunch, written by John Lurie. A “sci-fi povera” film shot on Super-8, “Men In Orbit” features musician John Lurie and Eric Mitchell as chain-smoking astronauts occupying a decrepit New York living room transformed into a spacecraft. •G Men•. 1978, 40 min. Directed by Beth and Scott B. An exploration of social schizophrenia in which terrorists consult their mothers before planting bombs, and the head of the NYC bomb squad succumbs to his dominatrix. With Bill Rice and Marcia Resnick. She Had Her Gun All Ready. 1978, 28 min. Directed by Vivienne Dick. With Lydia Lunch and Pat Place, this film, set in the Lower East Side, is about unequal power between two people (of any gender), or the repressive side of a person in conflict with the sexual powerful side.
Wednesday, October 7, 7 p.m., T2; Sunday, October 18, 5:30, T1.

Rome 78. 1978. Directed by James Nares. A noted classic of the “New Cinema” of underground East Village filmmakers, this color Super-8 film presents a narrative surrounding the Roman Emperor Caligula set in a shabby New York apartment. Ultimately, James Nares proposes an analogy between ancient Rome and modern America as cultural empires. Monday, October 12, 7 p.m., T2; Saturday, November 28, 7:30 p.m., T2.

Stranger than Paradise. 1984. Directed by Jim Jarmusch. A self-styled New York hipster (John Lurie of the Lounge Lizards) is paid a surprise and quite unwelcome visit by his sixteen-year-old Hungarian cousin. From initial hostility and indifference a strange affection grows between the two exiles. Saturday, October 17, 8 p.m., T1; Sunday, November 29, 2 p.m., T2.

Variety. 1984, 100 min. Directed by Bette Gordon. In Bette Gordon's pioneering indie film about voyeurism from a female perspective, a young woman (played by Sandy McLeod) works as a ticket taker in a porn theater, and her curiosity leads her to shadow a male patron. Friday, November 27, 7 p.m., T2; Monday, November 30, 4 p.m., T2.

Godlis (American, born 1951), Suicide, CBGB’s. 1977, Black-and-white photograph, The Museum of Modern Art Library, Gift of the artist.