Early paintings and ephemera by Tabboo!, full of 1980s New York punk glamour
This clothbound volume appraises the formative years, from 1982 to 1988, of legendary performer, painter, designer, puppeteer and muse Tabboo!’s career. The book displays historical ephemera–including homemade flyers for performances at iconic clubs–along with the artist’s paintings. Additionally, an essay on the “Glamorous Life” by Jarrett Earnest explicates the thematic concerns of the catalog. In a 1995 interview with Linda Simpson about his early work, Tabboo! observed: “the subject matter was drag, glamour, ladies’ shoes, lingerie, hairdos, vinyl–same as now.” Tabboo!: 1982-88 underscores the joy of creating and living, exuberantly.
Tabboo! (Stephen Tashjian, born 1959) moved to New York City’s East Village in 1982 and quickly established himself as a fixture in its drag scene. In the style of fellow Boston School artists Nan Goldin, Jack Pierson and Mark Morrisroe, he chronicled the zeitgeist with a raw, diaristic approach. In his work, dizzying visuals of nightlife and its cast of characters accompany affectionate portraits of his friends; seedy glamour and high camp meet in a jubilant fusion of collage, paintings and photography. Not one to be an aloof observer, Tabboo! was often photographed himself–by Goldin, Morrisroe, Pierson, Steven Meisel, Steven Klein, David Armstrong and Philip-Lorca diCorcia. Both creator and muse, chronicler and participant, he emblematizes the open experimentation central to the mythology of glamorous underground culture.