Glam! The Performance of Style is the first critical appraisal of the art and visual culture of the early 1970s’ glam era to take the form of an exhibition. Embracing high and low culture, glam was a pop narrative and sensibility which emerged at this time, deploying artifice and irony whilst playing with identity and gender definitions. Moving beyond nostalgia, the show uses glam as a prism through which to view and refract artistic developments in Europe and North America. It brings together over one hundred works by artists including Richard Hamilton, Sigmar Polke and Cindy Sherman, re-imagining art and performance in the 1970s to reveal the migration of fine art ideas into the front edge of popular culture.
The exhibition takes as its starting point the dynamic convergence of art, music and fashion which fermented in British art schools during the 1960s and contributed to the emergence of glam rock in 1971. The coming together of art and life was expanded through performative ideas of dandyism and the ironic pose, manifest in the work of Gilbert & George and Nice Style: The World’s First Pose Band. Theatricality and heightened personal style is further examined in Marc Camille Chaimowicz’s Celebration? Realife 1972–2000, a spectacular glitter-strewn installation with elements including mirror balls and stage and strobe lighting. Notions of artifice, voyeurism and transgression inhabit the work of Guy Bourdin and Allen Jones, with the exhibition revealing the artistic use of materials such as feathers, fur and glitter, lending works a synthetic or ‘trashy’ quality that corresponds with the glam aesthetic. Other artists presented include Steven Arnold, James Lee Byars, Franz Gertsch, Jack Goldstein, Derek Jarman, Jürgen Klauke, Ed Paschke, Patrick Procktor and Billy Sullivan.
Glam! The Performance of Style also examines the emergence of glam culture in North America, tracing the evolution of camp in the work of artists such as Jack Smith, Peter Hujar, Nan Goldin and Jimmy De Sana, as well as Andy Warhol, whose unwavering interest in invented persona, glamour, style and fashion was central to glam. During this period artists in Europe and North America including Eleanor Antin and Cindy Sherman explored idealised states of glamour to exaggerate or satirise the cultural values of beauty and fashion, while others were concerned with shifting roles in relation to gender and identity, as demonstrated in Katharina Sieverding’s installation Transformer (1973–4), and in Ulay’s rarely seen Polaroid works. The exhibition will be augmented by a rich selection of contextual documents and ephemera from the era, underlining the continuing influence of glam on the contemporary imagination.
Concurrent to Glam! The Performance of Style, Tate Liverpool will present Sylvia Sleigh, the first UK retrospective of Welsh-born realist painter who gained critical success in the 1960s and ’70s as an important instigator of New York’s feminist art scene. Known for her explicit male nudes that quote and subvert the art historical tradition of male gaze onto female body, Sleigh’s portraits feature artists, musicians and writers of both genders, representing a pantheon of significant cultural figures. Exploring contemporary portraiture as an intimate dialogue between artist and sitter, Sleigh’s practice elevated her subjects, aiming to remove objectification from art. Featuring an intervention by LA-based artist Frances Stark, the exhibition will include over fifty works, providing insight into Sleigh’s artistic development and themes found within her work.
Glam! The Performance of Style is curated by Darren Pih, assisted by Eleanor Clayton. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue by Tate Publishing with contributions by Jean-Christophe Ammann, Michael Bracewell, Dominic Johnson, Mike Kelley, Neil Mulholland, Darren Pih, Simon Reynolds, Glenn O’Brien, Alwyn Turner and Judith Watt. The exhibition will tour to the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt (June–September 2013) and Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz (October 2013–January 2014).
Sylvia Sleigh is curated at Tate Liverpool by Francesco Manacorda, Artistic Director.
Glam! The Performance of Style is supported by the Culture Programme of the European Union. With additional support from Tate Liverpool Members and The Glam! Supporters Group.
Sylvia Sleigh is supported by The Women’s Caucus for Art, USA.