Cecil Beaton, celebrated portrait and fashion photographer from the 1920s through the 1970s, remembered the revolutionary feeling in photography when female models were allowed to spread their feet apart—even a little. Prior etiquette demanded that the two feet touch. Times change. Here, Max Vadukul takes the viewer right into bed with Amy Winehouse on her wedding day. That she is clothed takes nothing away from the seduction. Rolling Stone ran the picture across two pages in its June 14, 2007, issue under the heading “The Diva and Her Demons.” The photograph dramatizes the challenge of all stars of the twenty-first century: what do you reveal and what do you protect as you approach stardom?
In 1979, the artist Andy Earl, then twenty-four years old, represented Britain at the Venice Biennale (an international contemporary art exhibition).The year before, the impresario Malcolm McLaren, manager of the Sex Pistols, had seen Earl’s blurred and haunting color photographs at the Photographers’ Gallery in London. When McLaren wanted something striking and shocking for the cover of a new album by Bow Wow Wow, a group he represented, he remembered Earl’s photography. Together they settled on a re-envisioning of the nineteenth-century French artist Edouard Manet’s famous painting Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass) of 1863. The male musicians, beautifully costumed by fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, were delicately arranged, and the naked teenaged lead singer, Annabella Lwin, carefully positioned. To McLaren’s delight, the picture immediately became controversial: the underage rock star did not have her mother’s permission to pose naked.
Michael Putland was the official photographer on some of the Rolling Stones’ U.S. and European tours. He had access granted no other photographer and was able to stay in the “pit” for entire concerts while the other photographers were asked to leave after the first three songs. Putland laments the lack of discrimination in the press today when it comes to celebrity portraiture. “There is no premium for quality,” he says. “I love photography, not the nonsense.”
Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present
October 30, 2009–January 31, 2010
Who Shot Rock & Roll is the first major museum exhibition on rock and roll to put photographers in the foreground, acknowledging their creative and collaborative role in the history of rock music. From its earliest days, rock and roll was captured in photographs that personalized, and frequently eroticized, the musicians, creating a visual identity for the genre. The photographers were handmaidens to the rock-and-roll revolution, and their images communicate the social and cultural transformations that rock has fostered since the1950s. The exhibition is in six sections: rare and revealing images taken behind the scenes; tender snapshots of young musicians at the beginnings of their careers; exhilarating photographs of live performances that display the energy, passion, style, and sex appeal of the band on stage; powerful images of the crowds and fans that are often evocative of historic paintings; portraits revealing the soul and creativity, rather than the surface and celebrity, of the musicians; and conceptual images and album covers highlighting the collaborative efforts between the image makers and the musicians.
Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present is organized by the Brooklyn Museum with guest curator Gail Buckland.
The exhibition is sponsored by
Generous support is provided by the Barbara and Richard Debs Exhibition Fund, the Arline and Norman M. Feinberg Exhibition Fund, and the Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin Exhibition Fund. Additional support provided by Matthew Marks Gallery.
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