God Save Jamie Reid: The Lost Voice of Punk

by SHOWstudio on 10 August 2023

Jamie Reid, the visual artist whose generation-defining album artwork for the Sex Pistols has died, age 76.

Jamie Reid, the visual artist whose generation-defining album artwork for the Sex Pistols has died, age 76.

What does the line between text and image look like, and how does one define it? The late visual artist and punk provocateur Jamie Reid, whose death was announced yesterday morning, may not have publicly answered this question, but his illuminous catalogue of work - most famously for the Sex Pistols - illustrated how graphic design has the key to unlocking the defining attitude and voice of a generation.

Suitably armed with a background in radical politics, Reid's pathway to success started at Croydon Art School, where he met Sex Pistols' future manager Malcolm McLaren. The two went on to collaborate on a series of album covers for the band that reached far beyond cult status, influencing the mood and aesthetic of the 1970s, an era ruled by a cut 'n' paste, DIY aesthetic.

Reid's best-known work was seen stamped on the covers of a series of Sex Pistols releases: the pink and yellow text of their only album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols and the hit single banned by the BBC, God Save the Queen, which featured a Peter Grugeon portrait of Queen Elizabeth II defaced by Reid in an act of vengeance on traditional values upended by the monarch.

His poster for the single Anarchy in the UK, featuring a torn union jack, was another image that defined the iconoclastic energy of the punk era - his signature collaged lettering mimicked the cut-and-paste style of an anonymised ransom note, a look popularised by esteemed poet and literary giant William S. Burroughs.

Reid's art is held in major institutions such as Tate Britain, New York's Museum of Modern Art and Houston's Museum of Fine Art. He is survived by a daughter and granddaughter, as well as a tremendous legacy that highlights the importance of rebellion and free speech in art.



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