Friday’s Art Notes

BY Molly Finnegan  April 9, 2010 at 9:28 AM EDT

Malcolm McLaren, 'God Save the Queen
Malcolm McLaren, former manager of the Sex Pistols and the New York Dolls, and the man who claimed to have invented punk rock, died Thursday at a hospital in Switzerland after a long battle with cancer. He was 64.

More on McLaren after the jump.

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Reading is Fundamental, the non-profit organization that gives free books to underprivileged children, is at risk of losing its federal financing if a proposed Department of Education budget proposal goes through, via New York Times.

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The Washington Post reports on the ambition of one Utah man to construct a 300-foot bronze structure he calls the ‘Statue of Responsibility’, a kind of west coast complimentary partner to the Statue of Liberty.

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Earlier this week, music men David Byrne and Fatboy Slim released a new collaborative concept album based on the life of Imelda Marcos called ‘Here Lies Love’, via NPR.

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(McLaren, contd.)

Malcolm McLaren, a former art student, first made a name for himself in London in the early ’70s when he opened a shop selling fetish clothing with Vivienne Westwood. After meeting the band the New York Dolls at the store, he left for the United States to manage the act. Soon after, the group broke up.

He returned to London and gained his greatest notoriety for managing the Sex Pistols and bringing punk music into the mainstream. In 1977, on the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, he was famously arrested after sailing down the Thames with the band as they mocked her with their version of “God Save the Queen.”

 
A year later after an American tour, the Sex Pistols split up amid accusations that McLaren had mismanaged them and withheld money. And in 1979, the band’s bassist, Sid Vicious, died of a drug overdose just a few months after the stabbing death of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen.

 
Here are some of the many of tributes to and remembrances of the controversial music figure:

Lizo Mzimba of the BBC, which along with many other radio stations, banned the Sex Pistols’ “God Save the Queen”: “Malcolm McLaren will be remembered as a figure who had a tremendous influence on British culture…. And without Malcolm McLaren, punk may never have exploded in the way that it did.”

Alexis Petridis of the Guardian: “[I]t’s as The Sex Pistols’ manager that he will be remembered, which means the question of how successful he was in the role is likely to be debated for years to come…. McLaren remained a controversial figure up to his death, and will remain a controversial figure beyond it — which is presumably just what he wanted.”

Judith Thurman of the New Yorker: “Malcolm was, among his many gifts, a synthesizer of genius….an heir of the anarchists, who spawned the Dadaists, who sired the Situationists, who helped to fertilize the counterculture of the nineteen-sixties and seventies.”

Andy Gill in the Independent: “[H]is passing throws into even starker relief the drab, corporate nature of a pop industry in dire need of entrepreneurs with a little of McLaren’s intelligence, wit and non-conformist spirit.”

Andrew M. Goldstein in Artinfo: “In recent years, McLaren began to pursue a third career, in the art world, which was astonishing for the assured hand and masterful pastiche that he brought to bear in his few…completed projects.”