September 7 - October 22, 2017
THESE DAYS is excited to offer this collection of rare posters produced from 1985 through 1995 by British band The Smiths and Morrissey.
This selection of vintage, oversized 40” x 60” duotone posters, originally displayed in British and European subway stations and record stores, comes to us from the archives of an anonymous Smiths/Morrissey fan and collector. The collection is the result of an obsession that spanned more than twenty years.
The Smiths formed in Manchester, England in 1982 around lead singer Steven Patrick Morrissey, guitarist Johnny Marr, drummer Mike Joyce and bassist Andy Rourke. In only five years they solidified themselves as one of the top bands in history, and are still embraced by a rabid cult following. The Smiths is a band from the 80s that was never an 80s band, and their record cover artwork reflected their music’s quality of being apart from time and contemporary trends.
From the beginning, lead singer and co-songwriter Morrissey conceived and controlled all of the band’s record cover artwork, sharing design duties with Rough Trade art coordinator Jo Slee. He eschewed the glamour and splashy bright color that dominated pop album art in the early video age, as well as the classic rock trope of the band as photo subject. Instead, their artwork was understated, consisting of stark, usually duotone images of subjects that referred to the past and reflected Morrissey’s artistic interests: cult film stars, authors, figures from sixties British popular culture, and anonymous images from old films and magazines. Their singles covers rarely featured any text other than the band name, and the band itself did not appear on the cover of any UK release.
According to Morrissey, The Smiths’ artwork needed to “take images that were the opposite of glamour and to pump enough heart and desire into them to show ordinariness as an instrument of power—or, possibly, glamour.” The result is a collection of thematically consistent artwork that stands on its own.