Black Flag’s menacingly simple logo, designed by artist Raymond Pettibon in the late 1970s, has achieved a kind of ubiquity few others have. Born on the streets of Los Angeles, his design for his brother Greg Ginn’s band Black Flag consisted solely of four vertical black bars, and has become a symbol known the world over.
An entire art book has been devoted to tattoos of this logo, and graffiti spotters across the globe understand the unwritten meaning of the symbol: rebellion. (When I visited Yangon, Myanmar, in 2009, I saw the Black Flag bars spray-painted on a public wall.)
That logo is celebrated in a fascinating new documentary short about the art of Black Flag and its visionary artist-in-residence Pettibon. The first in a series called “The Art of Punk,” the doc was produced by MOCAtv and author/filmmakers Bryan Ray Turcotte (Kill Your Idols) and Bo Bushnell (the Western Empire).
“The Art of Punk: Black Flag” chronicles the birth and impact of Pettibon’s work through interviews with him in his New York studio, co-founding Black Flag members Keith Morris and Dez Cadena, later vocalist Henry Rollins, Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist (and unofficial L.A. punk historian) Flea and others.
The video series will continue with two other installments in June. The work of British anarcho-punks Crass will premiere on June 18, and a look at Dead Kennedys and their collaboration with Winston Smith will arrive on May 25.
The full Black Flag documentary is embedded below. Note: The video includes strong language and adult (punk) themes, so it’s not safe for work or those easily offended.
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