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date: 22 January 2020

Art rocklocked

  • Chris Mcdonald


Art rock is a contested term referring to British progressive rock influenced by classical music, as well as rock music made by musicians whose creative experience and training was drawn more from visual art than music. Many musicians of the latter group attended art schools, where they developed familiarity with the techniques and theory of contemporary art. Emphasis was placed on postmodern, eclectic, and avant-garde approaches. This stream of art rock had a significant influence on the development of punk, new wave, and related styles in the United States.

Early cross-fertilization of rock and contemporary art in the United States was evident in Andy Warhol’s collaboration with the Velvet Underground in 1966. His multi-media events, called the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, combined his films with the band’s rock music, which was overlaid with minimalist features, including drones. Warhol’s goal of using rock as part of a larger, interdisciplinary-art work based around performance was influential on later incarnations of art rock. Frank Zappa’s work from the same era sat ambiguously between rock, avant-garde composition, and ...

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