Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present

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Alfred Wertheimer, American, b. Germany 1929. “Elvis Whispers Softly,” 1956, gelatin silver print 14 x 11 in. (35.6 x 27.9 cm). Photograph © Alfred Werthheimer, The Wertheimer Collection.

Henry Diltz, American, b. 1938. “Tina Turner, Universal Amphitheater, Los Angeles,” 1985, printed 2009, chromogenic print 24 x 20 in. (61 x 50.8 cm). Henry Diltz/Morrison Hotel Gallery © Henry Diltz.

William "PoPsie" Randolph, American (1920–1978). “Jimi Hendrix and Wilson Pickett, Prelude Club, Atlantic Records release party, Harlem, New York,” May 5, 1966, chromogenic print 20 x 20 in. (50.8 x 50.8 cm). Courtesy of Michael Randolph, Executor to the Estate of: William "PoPsie" Randolph.

Sat, 02/11/2012 - Sun, 05/13/2012
Scheller Gallery, Rodale Gallery, Fowler Gallery

 Learn more about the exhibit by watching Who Shot Rock & Roll here!

This exhibition, organized by the Brooklyn Museum in New York with guest curator Gail Buckland, will provide visitors with visual access to some of the biggest names in the music industry over the past 50 years. Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present contains more than 175 images including album cover art, candid snapshots, publicity portraits, and images of live performances of popular artists ranging from Elvis and the Beatles to Amy Winehouse and Eminem. But what makes Who Shot Rock & Roll different from other exhibitions is that it is the first of its kind to tell the story of rock and roll with an emphasis on who fashioned its image, the photographer.

Visitors to the museum will be able to examine works by 100 men and women who have photographed one of the most important cultural revolutions ever, rock and roll. Who Shot Rock & Roll contains images from photographers such as David LaChapelle, Diane Arbus, Linda McCartney, Richard Avedon, Amy Arbus, Annie Leibovitz, and Ernest Withers.  Their images capture the essence of the rock and roll genre—rebellion, freedom, personal reinvention, and expression. These skillful, sensual, sexy, creative, and compelling images are among the best representations of rock photography, past and present. 

Broken into six sections, Who Shot Rock & Roll will be a departure from the images fans so frequently find in popular print materials. 

  • Behind the Scenes: Imagine Marin Israel and Alfred Wertheimer, on assignment, catching Elvis Presley off-guard and innocent at the beginning of his career; Laura Levine on the road with R.E.M., photographing them at lunch counters and in tacky hotel rooms; Dominique Tarle with The Rolling Stones at their chateau in the South of France when they went into “exile” from the U.K.
  • Live Performances: See all the energy, passion, sweat, sexiness, style, and body language that is the band on stage, including Ed Caraeff’s complete series of Hendrix burning his guitar at the Monterey Pop festival, which has never before been exhibited or reproduced.
  • Crowds & Fans: From teenagers pushing British bobbies at Buckingham Palace to glimpse the Beatles to Charles Peterson’s mosh pit pandemonium picture to Ryan McGinley’s enraptured Morrissey followers, the photographs of fans are an important part of rock’s image.
  • Portraits: Veering away from “celebrity” portraiture and studio shots, these images try to depict not the glamour of the music industry, but the creative soul of it, ranging from Mark Seliger’s “stairwell” picture of the well-worked Mick Jagger to Philip Townsend’s photographs of The Rolling Stones before they had a record deal and Astrid Kircherr’s pictures of The Beatles in Germany in 1960 when Stu Stutcliffe was still in the band.
  • Young Artists: At one moment in time even the most famous artists were just another act in the show. Images such as those taken of Sonny and Cher by Harry Goodwin, shot in the dressing room of the British TV show “Tops of the Pops,” or Ray Avery’s photographs (front and back views) of the Ronettes with Phil Spector at the recording studio, or Ike and Tina Turner shot by the brilliant Memphis photographer Ernest Withers performing in 1962 at Club Paradise are now remembered as the “baby” pictures of many major musicians as they started their careers.
  • Conceptual Images & Album Covers: Many photographers have used their imagination to find visual equivalents for the music, and this section will showcase some of the masterpieces that have been created throughout the history of rock and roll by photographers Andy Earl, Bob Whitaker, Jean-Paul Goude, and the unparalleled Strom Thorgersen. The power of the album cover was frequently that of the photograph selected, often chosen by the recording artist and the photographer together to convey some truth about the music or themselves. Rarely is the original art displayed; but in this exhibition, the actual photographs used for some of the seminal album covers will be included.

Presenting sponsorship provided by County of Lehigh, Duggan & Marcon, Inc. and The Harry C. Trexler Trust.
Major sponsorship provided by ArtsQuest, The Express-Times and LehighValleyLive.com, The Leon C. and June W. Holt Endowment, Klunk & Millan Advertising, Lehigh Valley Style and 99.9 The Hawk.
Sustaining sponsorship provided by Acopian Power Supplies, Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., The Audrey and Bernard Berman Endowment Fund; Martin Guitar, State Theatre Center for the Arts, Wells Fargo and WDIY 88.1 FM, Lehigh Valley Community Public Radio.
Supporting sponsorship provided by Alvin H. Butz, Inc., Capital Blue Cross, Cigars InternationalICONBarry Isett & Associates, Lehigh Valley Woman and Univest Bank and Trust Company.
Preview Party Sponsored by: Bennett Automotive Group