Factory Records was a Manchester-based British independent record label, started in 1978 by Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus, which featured several prominent musical acts on its roster such as Joy Division and New Order.
New Order are an English rock band formed in 1980 by vocalist and guitarist Bernard Sumner, bassist Peter Hook and drummer Stephen Morris. New Order were formed in the demise of their previous post-punk band Joy Division, following the suicide of vocalist Ian Curtis. They were joined by Gillian Gilbert on keyboards later that year. Their integration of post-punk with electronic and dance music made them one of the most critically acclaimed and influential bands of the 1980s.
Michael Shamberg is a very important part of the New Order story. As the head of Factory US, he commissioned fine artists such as Barbara Kruger, John Baldessari and Lawrence Weiner to design artworks and posters. As New Order’s video producer, he hired directors such as Robert Longo, Robert Frank, Kathryn Bigelow and Jonathan Demme to direct a series of promos that are still classics of the genre.
Demme’s high-spec yet understated nine-minute film of the group’s 1985 single The Perfect Kiss was given its own Factory number (FAC 321) and remains both a performative and a character-driven portrait of New Order in their prime.
By 1985, Barbara Kruger’s status as an agitprop/feminist artist was already set: iconic works such as Your Comfort is My Silence, Your Assignment is To Divide and Conquer and Your Manias Become Science mixed black-and-white photographs with pointed epigraphs, usually set in Futura Bold Oblique. Kruger was commissioned to create the poster for The Perfect Kiss. This simple but highly effective poster was based on an untitled 1980 picture of a woman in submissive posture – usually called Perfect after the caption at the bottom of the image – and so needed little adaptation.
During the time Factory NY operated, a number of singles were issued, and concerts organised (most notable New Order at The Paradise Garage). The visual identity was a little more fluid than the UK operation, with numerous artists contributing to sleeves and posters.
Lawrence Weiner was commissioned to design the poster for the Paradise Garage show on 84 King Street in New York City on July 7, 1983. The poster is Red, white, blue & black and measures 20" x 30". There’s a corresponding black & white ticket for the show which has matching graphics.
Baldessari was also commissioned to design two posters for Factory, both promoting New Order's west coast tours. This poster refers to dates which were performed at Irvine Meadows in 1989, though no venue is mentioned. The performances were most likely part of the 'Technique' tour, though the visual identity here is eschewed for a striking composition by Baldessari.