God Save the Queen

Nikki & Ilva of the girl punkband The Nixe, fotoBuffel
Nikki & Ilva of the girl punkband The Nixe, fotoBuffel

God Save the Queen will be on display in the Centraal Museum from 3 March 2012 to 10 June 2012. This exhibition covers the period from 1977 - 1984 when Dutch youth decided to break free from a dire situation of crisis, high unemployment, housing shortage and nuclear bomb threat. Having lost all faith in the government, it was time for them to take charge. They occupied empty buildings in the cities, and in these squats started small new businesses. Their motto being ‘Do-it-yourself’. This young generation also gave music and art a boost of new life: punk got rid of the artificial symphonic rock of the seventies, and artists once again dirtied their canvas and clothes with paint. Over the past years, the eighties have received great interest worldwide. The revival is clearly noticeable in music and fashion and, internationally, there have been various exhibitions high-lighting this decade. Until now, such an exhibition had not yet taken place in the Netherlands.   

Detail, Keith Haring, Untitled 1983
Detail, Keith Haring, Untitled 1983

International scale
The exhibition mainly focuses on the Netherlands, but what was happening here cannot be seen outside the international context. This, due to the hungry curiosity typical of this time for what was happening in neighbouring countries and the US. Inspiration came from the wild painting style of Germany, but also graffiti from across the Atlantic in New York. The exhibition shows works by Walter Dhan, Georg Dokoupil and Americans Keith Haring, Rammellzee and Jean-Michel Basquiat. An attempt by Dutch artists to respond to the American graffiti were Spray Armee, with René Daniëls, Hewald Jongenelis, Rob Scholte and Roland Sips.    

The start of the 80s was accompanied by the mantra ‘do-it-yourself’. Visitors can therefore get their own hands dirty by making button badges, analogue chatting and with an interactive set of drums. 


The exhibition is named after the youth’s punk anthem at that time, the song God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols. This song was intended as an indictment against the powers that be.




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