This show presents a selection of Bob’s rarely seen vintage prints chronicling the music scene from the 1960s and 70s until the present. Starting with a rare image of Bob Dylan going electric at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 to touring with Ike and Tina Turner in 1971 and then on to the early days at CBGB and Max’s Kansas City where he made classic images of Blondie, The Ramones, The New York Dolls, Suicide, DEVO, Television and Lou Reed, Bob has captured some of the most memorable photographs of rock and roll’s icons and iconoclasts.
The exhibition ventures beyond the New York rock and punk scene with an extensive look at Bob’s photographs of seminal bands from the first wave of British punk. The show includes incredible images of the Sex Pistols and The Clash who brought an aggressive attitude and new rebellious image to the rock scene.
Bob’s image of Sid Vicious with Hot Dog is in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery London. Bob became friends with The Clash, toured with the band and even played a Cavalry Charge on bugle to open shows at Hammersmith Odeon and their shows at Bonds in Times Square. There are portraits and candid shots of Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon, Topper Headon and images of The Clash performing live.
There are some of Bob’s classic images of The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin per- forming in stadiums filled with audiences who witnessed the attitude, passion and raw energy of artists like Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page who’s names are synonymous with rock and roll.
For Bob, “rock and roll is about the freedom to express yourself loudly. There’s a feeling of anarchy when you’re in the middle of a crowd of cheering fans, with all the energy focused on the artists on the stage. It’s important for me to capture that in my photos. I often have to shoot fast to catch the right moment, and there’s no time to worry about getting the focus or other technical details right, but I like to think that while the subject is not “sharp,” the feelings are clear.”
In contrast to the photographs that capture the raw edge of rock, the show also includes touching photographs of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who Bob worked with closely as their personal photographer from 1972 until Lennon’s death. He captured not only their working life but many private moments as well.
His iconic image of John Lennon wearing a New York City T-Shirt is part of the permanent collection of The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Yoko Ono writes that “Bobs magical photos ... present a kaleidoscope of John’[s]...New York Period. It is beautiful, clear, and truthful. I know, I was there.”
The show features an installation of Bob Gruen’s Teenage Bedroom a variant of which was shown at MoMA’s exhibition Looking At Music: Side 2 (2009) which explored the creative exchange between musicians and artists in New York City in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The work consists of walls covered with band posters, newsprint articles with images, and maga- zine covers, all featuring Gruen’s rock photos, to resemble the typical bedroom decor of a teenage rock fan.
There will be screenings of Rock and Roll Exposed, a documentary by Don Letts about Bob Gruen featuring interviews with Iggy Pop, Yoko Ono, Debbie Harry and Alice Cooper and many others. There will also be screenings of All Dolled Up, a documentary made by Bob Gruen and Nadya Beck of their early 1970’s video footage of the New York Dolls and an early 1970’s documentary video of Ike and Tina Turner on stage and at home.
As chief photographer for Rock Scene magazine and an active freelancer for magazines like Creem, Melody Maker and Rolling Stone, Bob’s photographs have appeared on the covers and filled the pages of many of these seminal publications; capturing the whole scene, on stage, offstage, on tour, at parties, at play, at home and relaxing. It's all here, the look, the feel, the magic that’s Rock and Roll.
For 40 years, Bob Gruen's name has been synonymous with rock and roll. From taking early photos on tour with Ike and Tina Turner, to capturing the early CBGB/Max's Kansas City scene to covering current stadium rockers such as Green Day, Gruen has always been at the right place at the right time—and he's always gotten the shot. In this lavish monograph, Gruen has curated his favorite photographs from his career, with intimate captions and behind-the-scenes anecdotes. Featuring such illustrious acts as the Clash, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols, Ramones, and more, and including an introduction by the legendary Debbie Harry of Blondie, this collection is a must-have for all fans of rock and roll.
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