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‘Blowing up bridges so there is no way back’: Malcolm McLaren, Situationists + Sex Pistols remembered by Fred Vermorel in new exhibition catalogue

Nov 16th, 2015

//Front and back cover designs//


//Pages on McLaren including image of the 1977 God Save The Queen muslin top designed with Vivienne Westwood and featuring Jamie Reid’s graphic and lyrics for the Sex Pistols track//


//Vermorel’s memoir includes images of McLaren’s student work such as this mixed media piece produced while on a fine art course at Goldsmith’s College in 1969//

Considered as an artwork, a two-and-a-half year project, and in its own terms, McLaren’s Sex Pistols’ was as seminal and resonant as Picasso’s Guernica.

Only this was a masterpiece made not of paint and canvas but of headlines and scandal, scams and factoids, rumour and fashion, slogans, fantasies and images and (I almost forgot) songs, all in a headlong scramble to auto-destruction.

For it was equally a Situationist treatise-by-example, the unremitting and obdurate core being McLaren’s grasp of the theory of situations as proposed by the SI.

Indeed, the story of the Pistols is a Situationist textbook of how to create situations from which there is no return. You refuse to negotiate, to compromise, to be co-opted, you exacerbate every crisis and recklessly play loser wins and then you blow up all the bridges so then there is no way back.

We are then forced to invent another future. Or maybe simply relish the mess, “the ecstasy of making things worse”.
From Fred Vermorel’s memoir which appears exclusively in the new exhibition catalogue.

The catalogue for the exhibition Eyes For Blowing Up Bridges is now available.

The lavishly illustrated 100-page book includes a foreword by John Hansard Gallery’s Ros Carter and Stephen Foster, my introduction, an essay by co-curator David Thorp and a specially commissioned memoir of Malcolm McLaren and his connections to post-war radicals by his art-school friend and collaborator Fred Vermorel.

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Eyes For Blowing Up Bridges: Installation shots from radical art, beat + punk exhibition at John Hansard Gallery

Oct 16th, 2015

//Top: Anarchy Shirt designed by Malcolm McLaren + Vivienne Westwood, 1976. Worn by Sex Pistols acolytes Jordan (Pamela Rooke) and Simon Barker for performances and TV appearances by the group. Private collection. Above left: screening room for Paris Capital Of The XXIst Century, Malcolm McLaren, 2010; right: vitrines and monitors in gallery 2. Photos: Steve Shrimpton//

Hope you enjoy this selection of installation shots from the exhibition Eyes For Blowing Up Bridges: Joining The Dots From The Situationist International To Malcolm McLaren, currently wowing visitors to Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery.

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Eyes For Blowing Up Bridges: Opening a great success

Sep 28th, 2015



//Viewing exhibits in Gallery 2 at John Hansard Gallery. Pic JHG//

The opening of new exhibition Eyes For Blowing Up Bridges: Joining The Dots From The Situationist International To Malcolm McLaren at the weekend was a great success.


//Visitors Nick Abrahams + Suze Malyon with their dog Mrs Shufflewick//

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Modernize your old culture! Be up to date! Eyes For Blowing Up Bridges installation well underway

Sep 23rd, 2015



Intended for the public. Easy reading

Collectors and museums,
be modern
If you have old paintings,
do not despair.
Keep your memories
But detourne them
So they correspond to your time
Why reject the old [paintings]
If one can modernize them?
With a few brushstrokes
Modernize your old culture
Be up to date
and distinguished at the same time
Painting is over
Better give it the final blow
Long live painting

Asger Jorn, exhibition catalogue, Galerie Rive Gauche, Paris, May 1959. Translation: Young Kim.

Among the pertinent exhibits of our forthcoming show Eyes For Blowing Up Bridges is the statement disavowing traditional approaches to artistic creation made by the Danish artist and writer Asger Jorn in the late 50s.

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Installing our exhibition Eyes For Blowing Up Bridges: Joining the dots from the Situationist International to Malcolm McLaren

Sep 21st, 2015

Eyes For Blowing Up Bridges: Exhibition joining the dots between a group of supreme troublemakers

Aug 18th, 2015

I Groaned With Pain: Malcolm McLaren’s own t-shirts to feature in exhibition of status quo-disrupters

Jul 17th, 2015

//The t-shirts show the deliberate production of variants within the limited edition designed and written by McLaren and printed on the simple square pattern produced by Vivienne Westwood in 1974. © Malcolm McLaren Estate//

Two of Malcolm McLaren’s t-shirts from the very first production run of I Groaned With Pain – the notorious text design produced with Vivienne Westwood in 1974 – will be featured in Eyes For Blowing Up Bridges, the exhibition I am co-curating with David Thorp at Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery this autumn.


//T-shirt with central tear on light blue jersey with exterior seaming, labelled, Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood, 1974. 360mm x 375mm. © Malcolm McLaren Estate//

I Groaned With Pain is named after the first four words of the paragraph of text McLaren lifted from beat writer Alexander Trocchi’s erotic novel Helen And Desire (published in 1954 by Olympia Press under the pseudonym Francis Lengel).

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Introducing first UK screening of Malcolm McLaren’s completed Paris: Capital Of The XXIst Century at The Performance Studio next week

May 30th, 2015

Malcolm McLaren

McLaren opened up the frontiers between artistic and wider cultural attitudes by taking fashion and music out of their respective contexts and translating them into new formats that captured the wider popular zeitgeist. A closer look at his seemingly disarticulated, exuberant and streetwise oeuvre shows it to be consistent and, in its own way, profound.

David Thorp

On Wednesday (June 3) I’m introducing a screening of Malcolm McLaren’s Paris: Capital Of The XXIst Century at The Performance Studio in Peckham, south London.

This is a the first-ever opportunity in this country to see the final work, which McLaren completed a matter of weeks before his death in April 2010. A working version was shown here just once, at Newcastle’s Baltic in November 2009.

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Coming this week: Lucy Harrison’s multi-layered Carnaby Echoes + Nick Knight’s PUNK at Showstudio

Sep 1st, 2013

//Clockwise from top left: Cover, Helen And Desire, 1970; George O'Dowd, photo: Richard Bevan, 2013; Carnaby Street book and Palisades swing tag, 1970 and 1966; front cover, Anarchy In The UK newsprint fanzine, 1976//

I’m involved in a couple of events which open in London this week: artist Lucy Harrison’s multi-layered project Carnaby Echoes in the West End and photographer Nick Knight’s exhibition Punk at his Showstudio space in SW1.

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Blessed & Blasted: The International Poetry “invocation”, 1965

Apr 28th, 2011

Produced as the programme for the International Poetry Incarnation held in London in the summer of 1965, this “invocation” performed a similar function to the event, which is seen as the first gathering of the tribes which would form the counterculture.

Compiled by 10 of the participants at the London flat of Alexander Trocchi, the mission statement “maps a new emergent countercultural community”, as art historian Andrew Wilson wrote in 2004.

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