Fifth Avenue Anarchy

Punk fashion at the Metropolitan Museum is the Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik

(Left, courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art, © Dennis Morris; right, courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art, photo by Catwalking)

Two images care of the punk couture show that previewed today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York – and that I just panned on In that cranky review, however, I didn't have room to mention that, among the talentless couturier copycats of punk who dominate the show, there are also a few designers, such as Rei Kawakubo and Martin Margiela, who are genuine artistic geniuses. The thing is, I think that by including them the curators are guilty of that heinous sin that art historians call pseudomorphism: Imagining that because two artworks look the same, they also mean the same thing and play the same role in our culture. When Sex Pistol drummer Paul Cook wore a Union Jack t-shirt in the late 1970s (left) his brash punk gesture meant something utterly different than when Rei Kawakubo, a Japanese intellectual, reworked the British flag (right) into runway fashion in 2006. Ditto for punk's rebellious repurposing of junk and the Maison Martin Margiela's thoughtful recycling of consumer goods in the fabulous Artisanal line it launched a few years ago.

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