8 February 2013
Last updated at 01:00
An exhibition examining the glam era of the mid-1970s has opened at Tate Liverpool. The works include David Hockney's portrait of designers Ossie Clark and Celia Birtwell. "Hockney was a Royal College of Art graduate and a real dandy," says curator Darren Pih. "What was clear about the 70s was that there was a network of relationships. Everybody knew one another. When Bryan Ferry first came to London, he was sleeping on Hockney’s floor."
John McManus's film Roxette was made by art students in Manchester. "It's really a love letter to Roxy Music," Pih says. "It shows art students getting dressed up to go to a Roxy Music concert. What it also shows is that glam was very big in the provinces. It wasn’t just something for the metropolitan elite. It was a great enabler of social transformation." Photo: North West Film Archive at Manchester Metropolitan University, copyright Manchester School of Art
Jack Goldstein's film The Jump, made in 1978, is also on show. "It’s a rotoscope film of a man made of stars and he jumps and he performs for the camera and then he disappears from the screen," Pih explains. "It’s a very short film but it’s very poetic. It’s got a real patina of the 70s."
An installation made by Marc Camille Chaimowicz in 1972 titled Celebration? Real Life is "one of the most important works in the show," Pih says. "It's a room installation with mirror balls and strobe lights, lit candles, fresh flowers, the walls are painted silver, it’s a very large room strewn with kitsch bric a brac. It transforms the gallery into a kind of theatre set and it positions the viewer in the aftermath of some bohemian party."
US photographer Jimmy De Sana took Marker Cones. "He was in New York and part of that hedonistic subculture," Pih says. "What this show also emphasises is that there’s a tranche of glam sensibility in New York also."
The show aims to be the first serious examination of the glam era. "Glam, in its use of gender play and androgyny, the dressing up and showing off, against the backdrop of very harsh economic conditions, was more meaningful to more people than something like punk rock," Pih says. "Glam was a societal retuning. A gear change in British culture." The exhibition also includes Sigmar Polke's Kandinsdingsda (Wir Kleinburger).
"Peter Hujar was a very important photographer in New York in the 1970s and 80s," Pih explains. "Candy Darling was a stalwart of the Factory. She was in proximity to [Andy] Warhol. Even on her deathbed, which is what the image shows, she’s performing for the camera. It looks so staged but actually it is her deathbed. The idea of glam being a sense of an artificialness is quite an important theme in this show."
This photograph of David Bowie was taken by Terry O'Neill in 1974. "Bowie's performance of bisexuality and androgyny all came from artists I think," Pih says. "Bowie was at the front face of popular culture but what the show also shows is that it was reflective of a wider tendency in the visual arts." Glam! The Performance Of Style runs at Tate Liverpool until 12 May.