Review: "Who Shot Rock & Roll"
The show is a mini history of rock shown through 166 prints, from a young Elvis intimately shot by Alfred Wertheimer before he became the infamous man with the devilish hips to Jill Furmanovsky’s tour and stage photos of the band Oasis.
Guest curator Gail Buckland may have originally put on this show at the Brooklyn Museum, but this time the exhibition is given a fresh riff with an original short documentary that was made especially for the Annenberg Space. Buckland also compiled the photos plus additional ones into a book that was released along with the Brooklyn opening back in 2009.
In its new home, the exhibition is set up in two concentric circles, with the photos mostly lining the outer ring and the screening of the film on the inner, with a continuation of the photos to another small room with a slideshow of 80 photos by Henry Diltz set to music. Forget the white cube: this show has curves and draws you in as you work your way from the entrance all around to the center.
Interspersed with the photography, grouped together into categories, music videos provide visitors another medium through which to experience the music. With a section showing the beginnings of rock, one dedicated just to band and musician portraits, one focusing on crowds, one on cover art and one with dynamic stage shots (like Jimi Hendrix doing a little something called burning his guitar onstage), the show demonstrates breadth, but also depth.
Iconic images such as Bob Gruen’s photos of John Lennon on a New York rooftop, Linda McCartney’s shots of her husband Paul and the rest of the Beatles, and Barry Feinstein’s work on Bob Dylan are all there. Then there are a good deal less well-known photographs like Pattie Boyd’s portrait of then husband Eric Clapton and Ian Dickson’s stage shots of the Ramones playing in England.
The accompanying film shown in the gallery expands upon the work on the walls and gives the photographers even more of a voice. Because for how much the exhibition is about the rock legends in the photographs, it is also very much about the photographers and their relationships with these musicians and the time they capture.
As if there were not enough ways to experience this exhibition, the Annenberg Space is also partnering with KCRW to host a free live music series on Saturdays during the summer. This endeavor by the Space is a tour de force for rock past, present and future and by presenting the show through several mediums, gives music lovers a new way to experience the thrills and soul that is rock ‘n roll.
The exhibition is open until October 7th, plenty of time for you to go and rock on.