By Andrew Krivine
352 pages, hardcover, $39.95
Published by Pavilion Books
Punk art packs a punch to the gut. But for all its immediate, visceral effects on us, it is hard to define. Its irreverence, grittiness and bold discordance may offend the eye, just as punk music may offend some ears. And its scrappiness makes it easy to dismiss. Is it art, or is it amateurish noise?
Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die removes any lingering doubt about the value of the punk aesthetic and positions it, at last, as a powerfully provocative art form. Author Andrew Krivine, owner of one of the world’s largest collections of punk and postpunk memorabilia, explores the myriad reaches of punk culture into print media during punk art’s most innovative decade, 1976 to 1986. In roughly 350 pages bursting with images of record sleeves, flyers, badges and more, Krivine immerses us in a clatter and crash of type and graphics—the visual music of punk.
But Krivine’s book is more than a catalog of paraphernalia. Contributed essays and commentaries provide cultural context, design criticism and a personal touch celebrating the punk scene. Annotations suggest how notable design movements and styles—such as the Bauhaus, and Piet Mondrian’s work—influenced punk art, and detail the contemporary controversy around particular messaging.
As Krivine brilliantly shows, punk graphics reveal as much about the society in which they were made as they do about their viewers. When you open Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die, pay attention. If you reel with shock or delight, it is because punk graphics still have their voice, and are shouting to you. —Maya P. Lim