A new photography exhibition features iconic and never-before-seen images of the 1970s rock and punk music scene

D’Stassi Art is pleased to present Legendary Moments – a new exhibition bringing together some of the most memorable moments from the 1970s rock and punk music scene, photographed by legendary rock photographers Bob Gruen and Leee Black Childers.

On view from Friday, July 29 through Friday, August 19, iconic and never-before-seen images will chronicle the vibrant scene of 1970s punk music and culture, from the underworlds of London to downtown New York. Curated by Stephen Colegrave – co-author of the definitive text, Punk – A Life Apart (2010), the new exhibition features photographs by Gruen and Childers whose works collectively represent the best record of the changing music scene of the 1970s.

In keeping with the ever-evolving spirit of the movement, D’Stassi Art has invited several contemporary artists to freely reinterpret the photographs presented by Gruen and Childers, creating new dialogues between the original legendary figures and the new generation of renegades such as London- contemporary artists based ENDLESS, Hackney Dave, Rugman, Craig Keenan and more.

Deeply rooted in the communities they photographed, they both documented a pivotal time in music when the industry’s focus shifted from established stars like Elvis Presley and John Lennon to up-and-coming punk bands like the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols. Capturing the raw intensity and excitement of an age of possibility when fame felt within everyone’s reach, Legendary Moments gives us a rare glimpse into the lives of larger-than-life characters, from the perspective of those who knew them best.

Among these are Gruen’s haunting portraits of Alice Cooper and Salvador Dali, as well as a selection of snapshots covering the early New York scene with the New York Dolls and the Ramones, as well as the bands Brits The Clash and the Sex Pistols. Gorgeous photos of rock icon Debbie Harry are interspersed, along with photos of John Lennon, who was close to Gruen when he lived in New York in 1971.

Many of Childers’ photographs will also be unveiled for the first time, thanks to the ambitious undertaking of Colegrave and Smutty Smith who dug through thousands of film negatives in the late artist’s brother’s home in the United States. Together they digitized and restored the 45-year-old negatives and selected the best works for their debut at D’Stassi Art, in partnership with leading art photography printer Bayeux. These include rare images of Debbie Harry before she went blonde, a very young Michael Jackson on drums with the Jackson Five, the only existing shots of the Sex Pistols on stage in Manchester and Leeds during from their famous “Anarchy” tour, and amazing photos of Elvis Presley at the International Hilton press conference before his show at Madison Square Gardens in 1972.
Marking Gruen’s first major UK exhibition since 2014, Legendary Moments will also see its first-ever UK limited edition. In addition to these iconic prints, Gruen has collaborated with renowned printmaker Gary Lichtenstein on a new series of original serigraphs, digitally printed on canvas for the exhibition, adding new dimension and texture to Gruen’s legendary images.

Colegrave’s curation celebrates the fame show while spotlighting the real people beneath its veneer. The independent energy of the time was embodied in these innovators, creators and disruptors, who achieved cult status in late 20th century popular mythology.

Tracey L. Sweeney