Multicolored laser beams, day-glo dance floors, mirror-plated ceilings, kitschy patterned carpets, giant spaceship sculptures: from its nascence in the 1960s, discotheque aesthetics has been defined by the whimsical and the offbeat. Those familiar with artist Adrian Wilson, better known today for his humorous, subversive interventions across New York City, may be surprised to learn that he got his start reveling in this unique typography, capturing the heyday of European disco design in the late 1980s and ’90s.
As a freelancer for trade publications like Disco Mirror and European Discotheque Review for 11 years, he shot over 800 venues, including Ministry of Sound in London; Ku Club in Ibiza; and Le Malvern in Arzon, France. Using medium format slide film, Wilson says, he “documented the golden age of discos before bottle service and bland design.”
“After I stopped shooting for them, the magazines threw out all the images,” the artist told Hyperallergic. “I don’t blame them — at the time, I saw no value in 10-year-old random discos either, but now I think these would make an amazing book.”
Because the magazines depended on the advertising dollars of the companies that furnished the spaces or installed equipment, Wilson always photographed the clubs empty. As a result, the images are strikingly crisp, rare views of legendary venues like the 65,000-square-feet Genux club in Lonato, Italy — which featured a massive light fixture in the shape of a human brain suspended above the dance floor and claimed to be the largest disco in the world.
“Suddenly it became a kind of fantasy world where everyone was doing these themed nightclubs with crazy things like viking boats and volcanoes, anything to attract people,” Wilson said.
His favorite disco, however, Club Paradiso in the Northern Italian city of Rimini, was not the most eccentric but rather “supremely elegant.”
“It was the best-designed place in the world,” he continued. “I seem to remember they had cameras pointing at other tables so one could check out the other customers by looking at a TV screen on the table instead of looking at them.”
Seen today, when mass-produced minimalism and mid-century modern monotony continue to dominate the landscape of design, Wilson’s images of the quirky and extravagant disco interiors are immediately enchanting. But that wasn’t always the case, the artist says; when he approached Architectural Review with the photos a few years back, an editor described 1990s disco design as “universally abhorrent.”
“There was a snobbery toward discos,” Wilson said. “Because they weren’t really bound by taste or anything. They were meant to be a fantasy land, escapism. And that’s kind of missing nowadays.”
Artist Minouk Lim wants to offer a very different perspective on how one might deal with a grim history whose effects continue to be felt in the present.
This week: Should Washington have a national memorial for gun violence? Have cats used us to take over the world? What is Cluttercore? And more.
Organizers, artists, and land practitioners are holding public events at Iglesias Garden in a hub space supported by the Climate Justice Initiative, a project of Mural Arts Philadelphia.
Workers told Hyperallergic that they were tired of meager pay and a lack of job security.
The artist’s style blends aesthetic and cultural elements from Ghana, London, and New York’s graffiti scenes.
Jo Sandman / TRACES opens with a reception for the artist on June 3 at Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center in Asheville, North Carolina.
Authorities say Jean-Luc Martinez helped facilitate the Louvre’s purchase of objects illegally pillaged during the Arab Spring.
The suspects attempted to take a Basquiat artwork valued at $45,000 from Taglialatella Galleries but instead made off with a half-empty bottle of whiskey.
Funding MFAs and all full-time graduate degrees, the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans supports immigrants and the children of immigrants in the US.
From music and architecture to comedy and horror, these films showcase Ukrainian culture and its long-held ethos of resistance.
The artists showcased in Archival Intimacies examine the colonial trauma’s impact on Asian Americans and search for ways to overcome it.
Eiffel inadvertently paints its protagonist not as a great man worthy of scrutiny or praise, but as the Elon Musk of his day.