Punk magazine editor and cartoonist John Holmstrom created a rock magazine with a comic-book aesthetic.
Left to right: Punk #1, January 1976; #2, March 1976; #3, April 1976.
Forty years after the first issue of Punk, an exhibition honoring the influential magazine opens tonight at Howl! Happening, 6 East 1st Street. Founded by John Holmstrom, Legs McNeil and Ged Dunn, Punk became the model for a subsequent wave of do-it-yourself fanzines. The magazine popularized the word “punk,” linking it to the new music coming out of CBGB. Punk also had an effect on the art world, launching a second wave of pop art, and realizing the fusion of popular culture and fine art conceived in the 1960s.
Punk’s first inroad into the art world was the 1978 Punk Art exhibition, whose catalogue is reproduced online at 98 Bowery. Organized by the Washington Project for the Arts, an alternative art space in Washington, D.C., the exhibition mixed Punk’s youthful cartoonists with other artists whose work reflected the music and nightlife of downtown New York. Among these artists was the late Arturo Vega, guiding spirit of Howl! Happening. The 1978 exhibition introduced the term “punk art.”
This month’s exhibition presents new and old work by Punk’s stable of cartoonists, including editor John Holmstrom, Robert Romagnoli, and Ken Weiner (who will be drawing “Ugly Portraits” in person at tonight’s opening). Other artifacts and ephemera, like Rosanne Lasagna’s Sex Pistols puppets from the cover of Punk #14, tell the magazine’s story. The Punk magazine fortieth anniversary exhibition closes January 30.