Rock photo exhibit at Brooklyn Museum

03Dec09

The Brooklyn Museum currently has a photography exhibit called Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present which features photographs of musicians and bands from the past fifty years. The exhibit is housed is in two large galleries on the fifth floor of the museum, but the experience actually begins as soon as you pay the museum admission fee and receive a neon pink concert wristband.

Ok, so there wasn’t actually a concert, but I have to say it was quite different to hear rock music playing in a museum. The music came from the three or four video screens scattered throughout the exhibit. The screens played video footage featuring Elvis Presley, U2, The Vines, Bjork, and David Bowie. Photographs were displayed on the wall in groups based on categories such as “Starting Out,” “Behind the Scenes,” “Performances,” “Fans and Crowds,” and “Portraits.” There were also small collections which focused on single performers, such as Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix. Some of the other musicians featured in the exhibit include Patti Smith, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Madonna, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Grace Jones, Kurt Cobain, Oasis, and Bruce Springsteen.

The photos ranged from large multi-panel displays to small Polaroid snapshots. I enjoyed seeing the early shots of the musicians, before they made it big. Some of people who took these photos were just friends of the musicians, or sometimes just novice photographers who had no idea that the band would eventually be hugely successful. The photos seemed real and honest, and not so posed and part of a marketing ploy. Some of the images in the exhibit were eventually used as album cover art, and in those cases the actual album art is displayed near the photo. There is also a small section of the exhibit dedicated to a display of album covers from the past five decades.

The exhibit runs through January 31st at the Brooklyn Museum.

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2 Responses to “Rock photo exhibit at Brooklyn Museum”

  1. 1 Sehem

    Do you remember if they had any Charles Peterson…he was documented the whole seattle thing when it broke out…he has some amazing photos.

    But this sounds really good, I love rock, I love photography…Have to check this out, thanks Julie!

  2. Hey Sehem, no I don’t remember that name at all. There wasn’t much in the grunge area–no Pearl Jam at all. There was one pic of Courtney Love and one of Kurt Cobain. But yes, you should check it out it’s a fun exhibit.

    ps–Thanks for reading!


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