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Friday, June 15, 2012

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Punk palette: Jamie Reid's artwork for the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" release has become almost as famous as the actual song.

Exhibition puts spotlight on music artwork

Staff writer

It's hard to convey how much of a game changer The Beatles were for rock music. Almost 50 years ago, they brought their music to the United States and incited a craze called "Beatlemania." Japan was similarly smitten and their 1966 gig at Budokan was just as legendary.

Ever since then, the Japanese have had a genuine passion for British music. Therefore a new exhibition titled the "Art of UK Rock" at Bunkamura Gallery in Tokyo's Shibuya is likely to be a must-see for local Anglophiles.

From the Beatles to Blur, the event celebrates the artwork (about 100 pieces) of many popular groups — whether it be album covers or art made by the musicians themselves.

Sometimes the artwork associated with a band can become just as important as the music itself. Among the pieces displayed at the Bunkamura event will be the artwork for The Sex Pistols' hit "God Save the Queen." Designed by Jamie Reid, the piece features a defaced photograph of Queen Elizabeth II. The Observer newspaper called the image the most iconic of the punk era.

Album covers aren't just decoration, they are the face of artists and movements, and with MP3s becoming a more prevalent way of listening to music — their importance could also wind up being diminished.

"Art of UK Rock" will run at Bunkamura Gallery in Shibuya, Tokyo, from June 13 to 21 (10 a.m. till 7:30 p.m. [till 5 p.m. on June 21]). Admission is free. For details, call (03) 3477-9174 or visit www.bunkamura.co.jp.

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