Editorial

Editorial

With The Velvet Underground - New York Extravaganza, dive into an immersive, impressionistic and multimedia exhibition told by the eye-witnesses and contributors of the time.

From the sixties to the present, the Velvet Underground’s career trajectory is one of the most fascinating stories in the history of art, music and popular culture: how did a band who never found success during its brief existence (1965-1970) gradually develop into the rock legend par excellence it is today? Too ahead of its time, too transgressive, too in-your-face, too rebellious, it soon became the go-to model for other movements in the following centuries, from the explosion of punk to the present day. With time and the aid of a few prestigious admirers (David Bowie, Kurt Cobain, Étienne Daho, among others), the famous ‘banana album’, which is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year, established itself as the new matrix for modern rock.

It all started with the improbable encounter between Lou Reed and John Cale, a supremely talented, albeit unlikely, team, in the only city likely to let them grow together: underground New York of the early 60s, a time when it was the artistic elite who decided that ‘anything goes’. The poet-rocker and avant-garde musician built a group around them from some of their most fervent supporters – Sterling Morrison, a literature student and rock’n’roll fan; Moe Tucker, an androgynous-looking drummer from the suburbs driven by tribal rhythms; and Nico, the blonde iceberg whom Andy Warhol made lead singer of the Velvet Underground.

This exhibition retraces the Velvet Underground’s journey from the street to the highest echelons of New York society, from the pop music world to that of film, painting and literature. Half a century after the encounter between the founding members, the Velvets are still the most modern and mysterious band in the history of American rock.

A multimedia exhibition

Six films produced and directed especially for the exhibition

Underground art films

Edward English - Alexander Keewatin Dewdney - Gerard Malanga - Marie Menken
Barbara Rubin - Andy Warhol - Danny Williams

TV archives

Hundreds of images Pictures taken by some of the photographers who witnessed the band’s meteoric career

Nat Finkelstein - Donald Greenhaus - Lisa Law - Fred W. McDarrah
Gerard Malanga - Billy Name - Adam Ritchie - Steve Schapiro
Stephen Shore...

Rares archives contributed by many lenders and collectors

The work of contemporary artists inspired by the Velvet Underground

Antoine d’Agata - Léo Dorfner - Nan Goldin - Douglas Gordon
John Giorno - João Louro - Guy Peellaert - Alain Séchas
Jean-Luc Verna - Gus Van Sant...

Portraits of the band's members

Lou Reed - John Cale - Sterling Morrison - Maureen Tucker - Nico

As well as those who together made the underground New York

Candy Darling - Allen Ginsberg - Piero Heliczer - Angus MacLise
Gerard Malanga - Jonas Mekas - Barbara Rubin - Edie Sedgwick
Andy Warhol - Danny Williams - La Monte Young...

The Velvet Underground

  • © Gerard Malanga / Courtesy Galerie Caroline Smulders, Paris - Le Velvet Underground et Nico avec Andy Warhol, Hollywood Hills, 1966
  • © Lisa Law - Nico au Trip, Los Angeles, 1966
  • © Adam Ritchie - Le Velvet Underground filmé par CBS News pendant le tournage du film de Piero Heliczer Venus in Furs, 1965
  • © Adam Ritchie - Le Velvet Underground au Cafe Bizarre, 1965
  • © Adam Ritchie
  • © Adam Ritchie - Lou Reed au Delmonico, New York, 1966
  • © Adam Ritchie - John Cale au Delmonico, New York, 1966
  • © Lisa Law - Nico au Castle, Los Angeles, 1966
  • © Lisa Law - Lou Reed au Castle, Los Angeles, 1966
  • © Lisa Law - Nico et Lou Reed au Castle, Los Angeles, 1966
  • © Lisa Law - John Cale au Castle, Los Angeles, 1966
  • © Catell Muller
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  • Le Velvet Underground et Nico avec Andy Warhol, Hollywood Hills, 1966 (full)
  • Nico au Trip, Los Angeles, 1966
  • Le Velvet Underground filmé par CBS News pendant le tournage du film de Piero Heliczer Venus in Furs, 1965
  • Le Velvet Underground au Cafe Bizarre, 1965
  • Velvet Appart
  • Lou Reed au Delmonico, New York, 1966
  • John Cale au Delmonico, New York, 1966
  • Nico au Castle, Los Angeles, 1966
  • Lou Reed au Castle, Los Angeles, 1966 (full)
  • Nico et Lou Reed au Castle, Los Angeles, 1966 (full)
  • John Cale au Castle, Los Angeles, 1966
  • Velvet Catel Atelier Danube
Lou Reed au Castle, Los Angeles, 1966

The Velvet Underground - New York Extravaganza offers a six-step path to grasp both a mythical band and time.