Blondie: Panic of Girls


In 1974, creative partners Chris Stein and Debbie Harry founded the band Blondie, which became a seminal force in the American punk and New Wave movements. Nearly 40 years later, they are still working together with a vitality and passion that fly in the face of their venerable status in the world of rock. Key players in the New York downtown scene of the 1980’s, the duo famously brushed shoulders with many giants in the art world.

A couple of years ago, Chris Stein encountered the work of Chris Berens and recognized in it the same integrity and exaltation that made those legends of modern art so unforgettable. He shared his discovery with Debbie Harry, who was captivated by those glimpses into this kaleidoscopic internal world and its curious inhabitants.

Inside Chris Berens' studio, Amsterdam.

Shortly thereafter, the two of them initiated an ongoing dialogue with Berens, which led to a friendship and many conversations about Blondie’s music and art. Eventually, their mutual inspiration instigated what Berens called ‘a tidal wave of figures and ideas’ and a manifestation of Blondie was drawn into his visionary universe. Personified as a colossal mirror-world incarnation of Debbie Harry. Blondie mingled with the denizens of that shifting landscape and became transfused with the same unearthly radiance that illuminates the mysterious event that unfold there.

From this deluge of new inspirations arose a painting in which a towering figure with the eyes of Debbie Harry grounds the composition, surrounded by a maelstrom of creatures as well as the other members of the band. Chris Stein and Debbie Harry chose to make this painting the cover of Blondie’s 2011 album, ‘Panic of Girls’, and it also inspired Harry to have a stage costume created for the tour, which duplicated the military-style dress of her looking-glass counterpart. To delve further into what these three friends referred to as ‘the Soul of Blondie’, Berens went on to paint a haunting, unvarnished portrait of this imposing and unsettling presence. In her eyes, he captured both a weary, terrible knowledge as well as the wondering eternal child within.

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