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.
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
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
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