Art and antiques
Remembering Ian Curtis and Joy Division
May 16, 2018
In 1979, Kevin Cummins took a series of monochrome photographs of post-punk pioneers Joy Division. Entitled Arca, Hiscox acquired the portfolio in April for its art collection. With 18 May marking the death of lead singer Ian Curtis, Arca captures the intensity and intimacy of the band’s unique sound
When Kevin Cummins took some photographs of a virtually unknown Manchester band, he assumed the resulting images would be printed in the following week’s NME and never seen again. However, with Joy Division going on to exert a wide-reaching influence that was to inspire the likes of Radiohead and The Cure, Cummins believes that the images have become ‘more and more important in defining not only the band, but an era too’. Above: Arca 9, ©Kevin Cummins_Idols, Paul Stolper Gallery.
Arca 4, ©Kevin Cummins_Idols, Paul Stolper Gallery.
A freezing cold snowbound bridge in Hulme, Manchester on 6 January 1979. ‘I always felt the shot on the bridge was an architectural shot of Manchester, with the band an adjunct to it. Yet when you look at that photograph, you know exactly what Joy Division sound like. It couldn’t have worked with anyone else.’
Arca 1, ©Kevin Cummins_Idols, Paul Stolper Gallery
The band rehearses in Little Peter Street, an old Manchester warehouse, on 19 August 1979.
Arca 7, ©Kevin Cummins_Idols, Paul Stolper Gallery
Taking his own life on 18 May 1980, Curtis suffered from epilepsy and depression. His suicide resulted in Joy Division’s dissolution and the subsequent formation of New Order.
Arca 2, ©Kevin Cummins_Idols, Paul Stolper Gallery
Joy Division formed in 1976 in Salford, consisting of singer-songwriter Ian Curtis, guitarist and keyboardist Bernard Sumner, bass player Peter Hook and drummer Stephen Morris.
Arca 6, ©Kevin Cummins_Idols, Paul Stolper Gallery
The Arca photographs document Manchester as much as they do Joy Division. As an urban background, the city was intrinsically linked to the group and fed into its music.
Arca 11, ©Kevin Cummins_Idols, Paul Stolper Gallery
Both Joy Division’s music and Cummins’ images captured a typical moment in English culture: the transition from Punk to Indie.