Art into Pop (Redux)

Gavin Butt, Northumbria University

In 1987, Simon Frith and Howard Horne published the path-breaking book Art into Pop, detailing the impact of art school on British popular music, from sixties bohemianism to postmodernism in the 1980s. Bringing perspectives from the sociology of music to bear upon the subject of fine art education, their ‘cross-over’ methodology has remained largely unsurpassed in delineating the art school’s decisive role in shaping histories of popular music and culture.

That is, until the recent decade whence a welter of new academic studies, popular histories, autobiographies and exhibitions have appeared which, either wholly or in part, have served to update Frith and Horne’s original contribution: with perspectives on bands as diverse as Roxy Music, Destroy All Monsters, Gang of Four, Pylon and Soft Cell, and institutions including Cal Arts, Newcastle University and Leeds Polytechnic.

This session comprises new perspectives which seek to renew our understanding of the entwined histories of art education and popular music. The first part of the session explores the making of art and music across creative practices and educational hierarchies, whilst the second focuses upon the musical genres of pop, rock and reggaeton and their relations to fine art and art education.


Punk into Art: Ruth Novaczek and Ann Robinson
Rachel Garfield (University of Reading)

Transferable Skills: The Portsmouth Sinfonia, art school, and experimental music
John Beck (University of Westminster)

‘I Am Sitting in a Room (Zones). Go through the motions, pedagogue!’
Dawn Bothwell (University of Sunderland/Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss)

Oblique Strategies: Watford College of Art and avant-pop in the 1960s and 70s
Matthew Cornford (University of Brighton)

1980s Leeds, the Dada spirit and rock as a weapon
John Hyatt (Liverpool John Moores University)

The Reggaeton/Visual Artist: A new ambicultural disruptive
Carla Garlaschi (Cherish, Stockholm-based label)
art scene?