Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: 'The Art of British Rock: 50 Years of Rock Posters, Flyers, and Handbills'

As Rock & Roll progressed radically throughout the sixties, so did the way it was packaged, from the groovy new record sleeves to the posters and flyers that advertised them and concerts. The latter advances are on vivid display in writer Mike Evans and designer Paul Palmer-Edwards’s new book The Art of British Rock: 50 Years of Rock Posters, Flyers, and Handbills. We begin with the kinds of block-letter, boxing-style posters that unimaginatively announced concerts in the pre-British invasion age, but quickly whisk along with the eye-blasting pop art and art nouveau styles of the psychedelic age. The prog, punk, new wave, brit pop, and contemporary eras follow on a wave of wild variety.

A lot of books like this make the mistake of trying to cram in too much, shrinking the art for the sake of quantity. Palmer-Edwards is more concerned with quality, giving us large-scale representations of some amazingly detailed works that really require keen attention. Stripped of all their original commercial intentions, many of these pieces are as artistically conceived as the finest pop, op, and graphic arts hanging in any museum. And while a lot of Rock art books allow the art to do almost all of the talking, Evans's captions provide valuable information about the artists, the techniques, and the tools that brought these works into being. There are also full-page profiles of the most significant artists, including Roger Dean, the Hipgnosis team, Barney Bubbles, Jamie Reid, and Vaughn Oliver, while Rock’s most visually-striking band, The Who, receive special attention throughout. And is it just me or is the Fairport Convention poster on page 71 clearly the inspiration for Castle Grayskull?

Get the new softcover edition of The Art of British Rock: 50 Years of Rock Posters, Flyers, and Handbills at here:

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