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A look at 'Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955-Present'

A look at ‘Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955-Present’

The latest show presented at the Space is “Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present.”

The work is, as expected, remarkable.  The body and range of familiar musical icons curated in a setting that feels like an intimate venue brings a closeness to the figures.  The level of access under which these photographs were made  is a place of dreams.  The quiet moments  captured are a way into the lives of musical legends at a particular stage of their careers. The power of the photography and how much it elevated the rise of the star is also revealing, as well as how involved and engaged the photographer was to the musicians.

The first version of this show was presented at the Brooklyn Museum in 2009.  I imagine the show was just as dynamic as this one, but the addition to the digital presentation that accompanies all Annenberg Space for Photography presentations brings an added layer. The digital presentation, directed by Steve Kochones is sharply edited and very well set with the rhythm of the topic.   The transparency of the interviews of the photographers is a wonderful insight behind the lens.  It’s fast and entertaining and tells the stories of some of the most iconic music photographs of our time.

The show is chaptered in a way that tells a good story from the Starting Out series, the Portrait series, candid moments and Behind the scenes. Several of the photographs will be recognizable even if you are not someone who follows photographers.  Alfred Wertheimer’s photograph “Elvis Whispers Softly”  is placed close to the entrance and sets a nice tone for the show. The structure, sequence and editing are all thoughtfully produced, and the detailed stories of some behind the photographs, including Ed Colver’s portrait of Henry Rollins and Mark Seliger’s candid portrait of Jay-Z and Puff Daddy, are excellent additions.

The show presents the work of Bob Gruen, Lynn Goldsmith, Anton Corjin, David LaChappelle, Albert Watson and many more.  Don’t miss the series on Bob Dylan by photographer Barry Feinstein that is slightly tucked away.

There is ample time to visit the Space and take in this show, and it’s very much worth it.  And stay on top of the Iris Nights lectures and summer concert series that go with this show; the programming is exciting.

Caption: “Bob Dylan With Kids”  by Barry Feinstein (American, 1931-2011). Liverpool, England, 1966 (printed 2009), gelatin silver print, 16 x 20 inches. (40.6 x 50.8 cm).

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