It’s slightly paradoxical to see the punk spirit entering a museum by the front door, rather than by rebelling against the system, breaking the windows and flicking off all and sundry. And it proves something: that if punk long ago quit the domain of subversion and the avant-garde to be tamed, during the 1980s, by the commercial sphere, it is nevertheless well-established in the culture and official history of the 20th century.
It’s doubtless the fault of punk’s message, which was often superficially wanton, nihilistic and seditious rather than profoundly revolutionary. Of its Dadaist penchant and anarchist inflexions, not much is left: the verbal fury of the movement, in the end, hasn’t survived except in a few lines by the Sex Pistols. Still, in terms of art and music, punk thoroughly and long-lastingly impregnated music, fashion, cinema and fine arts. It is this essentially artistic, aesthetic aspect that the Cité de la Musique explores as it turns its attention to Europe between 1976 and 1980. From the filth of the Sex Pistols to the cult of clothing salvage, from the graphic effervescence of the French collective Bazooka to the politicised songs of the Clash, from the stylings of Vivienne Westwood to the new wave synthesisers of Joy Division, the exhibition points to a creative liberty that still affects popular culture in Europe today.
Opening hours: Tue to Thu 12noon-6pm; Fri-Sat 12noon-10pm; Sun 10am-6pm