11.02.09  /  General

The Museum Files: Who Shot Rock & Roll

Last Thursday night, new wave 1980's sensation Blondie performed during a rock & roll photography retrospective reception. Evidently Brooklyn Museum's marketing execs are getting more creative than ever in promoting their institution to a wider public. Not that we are complaining! So on a gorgeous Thursday evening at the end of October, while the Halloween madness had already taken over Manhattan, an eclectic crowd filtered in from each borough to celebrate rock & roll in pictures.

Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present, on view today until January 31, 2010, is the first major museum exhibit dedicated to rock & roll photographers and their crucial role in music history. (Hard to believe huh?)

Henry Diltz (American, b. 1938). Tina Turner, Universal Amphitheater, Los Angeles (detail), October 1985. © Henry Diltz

Curated by photography historian Gail Buckland, the show features around 175 iconic images captured by no less than 105 photographers. It is organized in six sections - 'Starting out', revealing among others a young, innocent Elvis Presley; 'Behind the scenes', where exclusive intimate pictures of The Doors and Kurt Cobain will inevitably trigger nostalgia; 'Fans & crowds', including some memorable mosh pit shots; 'Performances', in which the energy of the bands on stage transpire, even in stills; 'Portraits', featuring famous work by Annie Lebovitz; and last but not least, 'Constructing an image', where you'll find David Lachapelle's famous Lil'Kim and Eminem shots, for instance.

This shot below is reminiscent of The Sartorialist's work, isn't it? Madonna was street-spotted in New York City's East Village by photographer Amy Arbus one week before Holiday hit the charts, back in 1983. "I recognized her as the girl who went to my gym—as the girl who would sit around naked longest in the locker room," Arbus mentioned in an interview. (Now THAT is photographer's luck!)

Photo credit: MJ Parent

In between the exhibition rooms, guests gathered to reflect on the chronology of rock & roll in front of a wall covered in important album covers.

In addition to the photographs, a few milestone videos were displayed on plasma screens throughout the exhibit. They included The Vines 'Outtathaway', U2's 'One', Bjork's 'Big Time Sensuality' and Grace Jones' 'One Man Show'.

We caught a five-year-old cutie hypnotized by David Bowie's 'Life on Mars' clip.

One thing's for sure: Blondie still draws dedicated fans...

of all ages and styles...

as well as some very stylish kids:

On the third floor of the museum, a full stage was built to host Blondie's performance...

Debbie Harry made a remarkable comeback... as a brunette!!!

Photo Credit: Eric Weiss. Find more on the Brooklyn Museum's flickr page

By 8h30pm, the place had filled up...

The band kicked off the performance with 'Call Me' and proceeded to give fans exactly what they came for: a remembrance of why rock and roll (at least the new-wave kind) matters. She even covered Michael Jackson's 'Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough'.

Our verdict? 1) Rock & Roll needs to be celebrated more and 2) museum parties are definitely in style 3) music lovers in NYC, please don't miss out on this exhibit. Just head-bang your way to Brooklyn Museum's Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing, 5th Floor.

Photos by Vivianne LaPointe unless otherwise indicated.

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