Recently we stumbled upon this amazing collection of invitations, programs, flyers, posters, and broadsides from the period 1985 to 1987 of the legendary New York-based Palladium nightclub via recto|verso. The level of creativity and diversity is truly astonishing. The Palladium was a cinema, concert hall and later a nightclub. Designed by Thomas W. Lamb and originally called the Academy of Music, it was built in 1927 across the street from the site of an earlier venue of the same name. Opened as a deluxe movie palace by movie mogul William Fox, the Academy operated as a movie theater and concert hall through the early 1970s. In 1985, the Palladium was converted into a nightclub by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager. Japanese architect Arata Isozaki redesigned the building’s interior for the club. When Rubell and Schrager took over a new important chapter started for the Palladium as the heart of the New York art and music scene, exemplified by this wonderful collection.

Steve Rubell is said to have declared:

Artists are the rock stars of the 80s.

The notorious nightclub owner and his business partner Ian Schrager ran Studio 54 before their arrest and incarceration for tax evasion in 1980. In May 1985 they opened the Palladium nightclub, designed as a celebration of this unprecedented alliance between art and pop culture. The names of artists attached to the Palladium in the period of Rubell and Schrager is endless and highly impressive.

The first exhibition that opened at Palladium featured works by more than 70 artists including: Milton Avery, Lynda Benglis, Christo, Jim Dine, Eric Fischl, Vincent Gallo, Nancy Graves, Philip Guston, Michael Heizer, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Robert Kushner, Alice Neel, Judy Rifka, Lucas Samaras, Saul Steinberg, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, and Tom Wesselmann. This diverse field would be characteristic of the Palladium, which brought the artworld together with pop-artists, performers and personalities. Some of the works in the collection shared by recto|verso range from the ‘David La Chapelle: Taking Pictures is Fun’ exhibition, Invitation to dinner honoring Keith Haring, the Weird Beauty photo exhibit including Nan Goldin, curated by Carol Squires and Invitations to events in honor of John Baldessari and Grace Jones.

The club’s investments in the mailings was extraordinary, costing as much as $40,000 a week in 1986, examples in the recto|verso article include unusual forms and objects such as a fold-out prayer card invitation to Howie Montaug’s No Entiendes, a watershed evening of intentional amateurism, and an bloody knife invitation “environment” to a Halloween party designed by well-known theatrical and rock set designer Mark Ravitz.

The Palladium closed in 1997 and was later demolished. New York University purchased the land and built a 12-story residence hall retaining the name Palladium. The residence hall typically houses 975 undergraduate and 170 MBA students. Two floors in the basement and sub-basement are dedicated to the Palladium Athletic Facility, also known to the University community by its abbreviation, “PLD”.

For the full story of recto|verso see here.