Peter Saville’s work for Factory Records is the epicentre of a new show on British identity

25 July 2019

Peter Saville: Blue Monday (1983)
© Peter Saville. Courtesy of the artist.

An exhibition examining identity in British art, culture and society from the mid 70s to the 90s was inspired, says the curator, by one Peter Saville work – a sleeve for New Order. A discussion about the Blue Monday artwork for Factory Records, one of Saville’s best known designs, held the piece as a symbol of the era in Britain when punk was waning and the digital era was nigh.

With this at the epicentre, curator Michael Bracewell has put together the exhibition New Order: Art, Product, Image 1976-1995 at Sprüth Magers, London, tracking the evolution of British identity across the two decades with work by a host of notable contributors. Among the works are pieces by Angus Fairhurst, Richard Hamilton, Damien Hirst, Gary Hume, Karen Knorr, Sarah Lucas, Olivier Richon, Sam Taylor-Johnson and Gillian Wearing.

“As the first blaze of punk came quickly to an end, it was followed by an atmosphere of requiem, elegy and machine music cults of alienation, responding in part to a UK economic and political climate in a state of volatile flux,” says a statement from the gallery. “This was also the era that saw the rise to pre-eminence of computers, coinciding with the popular use of the term ‘post-modernism’ as a cultural shorthand to describe a new experience of society and culture. Peter Saville’s work for Factory Records exemplifies the ways in which pioneering excursions into post-modernity could be brought to the mass markets commanded by popular culture. His record sleeve for New Order’s Blue Monday was a work of art that anyone could buy from the record shop, designed by Saville with full autonomy from the band and Factory’s chaotic embassy of creative ideology.”

New Order: Art, Product, Image 1976-1995 is open at Sprüth Magers, London until 14 September.

Peter Saville will also be in conversation with the curator Michael Bracewell on 5 September at the gallery. You can reserve a seat at the free event via RSVP direct to the gallery. It’s Nice That spoke to Saville in 2017, when he proclaimed that this very same work for Factory Records “transcends music completely,” and that its influence “has spread through everything.”


Gary Hume: Me As King Cnut (1993)
© Gary Hume, DACS, London 2019. Courtesy-of-the-Artist-and-Sprüth-Magers.


Damien Hirst: Satellite (1989) Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates
© Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2019


Richard Hamilton: Diab DS 101 computer (1985-89)
© The Estate of Richard Hamilton


Karen Knorr and Olivier Richon: Punks (1977)
Courtesy of the artist.

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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