The documentary, simply titled Joy Division, features the story of the band as told by the members themselves. It’s fairly non-sensationalized, letting the music be the spectacle rather than Curtis’ suicide. Definitely worth a look and certainly worth a listen. See the film here, while it’s still available to watch online.
For you graphic design fans, Peter Saville is also featured in the film. He talks about his work designing the covers for the Unknown Pleasures and Closer with the band. Saville designed nearly all the Joy Division and New Order covers, who would later go on to make classic record covers for David Byrne/Brian Eno and Roxy Music, to name a few.
I especially love his design for New Order’s Power, Corruption, and Lies (below top right). I saw a show at the MCA in Chicago a few years ago called Sympathy For the Devil: Art and Rock & Roll since 1967 that featured a lot of the drawings and collages that Saville made in preparation for this classic cover. It was really interesting to see how he’d devised a color system for codifying the song titles into the design itself.
The show also featured classic photos of Ian Curtis on stage — in addition to non-Joy Division-related work by artists such as Raymond Pettibon, Mike Kelley, Christian Marclay, and Robert Longo. This exhibition, combined with the Kurt Cobain-themed show currently on display at the Seattle Art Museum, forces one to acknowledge at least one of the following two things:
- Pop music is finally being seen as an art form of critical cultural importance now that the Baby-Boomers and their kids are the ones shelling out big dough for contemporary art
- Pop-culture shows are good for ticket sales at museums.
Perhaps it’s a bit of both. That would explain those record sleeve sized picture frames that Urban Outfitters sells.