Tuesday, 28 September 2010


Between 1972 - 1984, the New Zealand New Wave band, Split Enz, formulated an artistic style encompassing all facets of their musical expression. Split Enz were perhaps unique in that they had their own art director in percussionist Noel Crombie.

Noel Crombie directed every artistic aspect of the band including: stage costumes, hair styles, sets and stage designs, posters, badges, promotional photos, tour programs, and album covers. He also directed most of their music videos.

Some of Noel Crombie's finest costumes are now part of the collection of the Victorian Museum of Performing Arts (source Wikipedia).

Split Enz were active and at their most creative during a period when Futurist themes and designs were experiencing a resurgence. It was a phenomenon, perhaps not recognized outside of artistic circles in their native New Zealand. However the band, and their stage and video performances, were well received locally and this eventually translated into international success.

Split Enz evolved across at least three musical genres and styles of performance. They started out as something like a glam-rock band, then developed musically and artistically into something unique, and experimental. Somehow, Split Enz's performances intrigued rather than alienated their fan base.

This artistic period defined the band and it is this period that interests me the most with respect to the way they pushed forwards an interpretation of Futurism/Modernism. Popular at the time, I suspect their success would not be possible now. Indeed, in the later years the Band's music and artistic style softened and turned decisively towards the mainstream. The band's guitarist and singer, Neil Finn went on to form the phenomenally successful pop band - Crowded House.

Whether deliberate or not, Noel Crombie's creations are clearly derivative of the resurgent Futurism movement that was underway during this period. This work by Alessandro Mendini - "Set da uomo, scarpe (1983)" (below) so closely resembles Noel Crombie's costume designs it is hard to guess who was influenced by whom...

Alessandro Mendini's: Set da Uomo, scarpe (1983)

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