Thursday, 11 February 2010

The National Portrait Gallery: Beatles to Bowie

Some postcards from the exhibition.
The 60s exposed. exploring the leading pop music personalities who helped create 'Swinging London' in the 1960s. The Shadows, The John Barry Seven, Cliff richard, Adam Faith, Billy Fury, The Kinks ,The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, David Bowie.
Showcasing top photographers of the time: David Bailey, Gered Mankowitz, Robert Whitaker.
From pure pop, through psychedelia and the birth of progressive music, Beatles to Bowie explores the dramatic developments of pop music and culture, and their lasting impact that continues to live in the memory today.
I found the nostalgic nature of the photographs very beautiful and I enjoyed looking and admiring the earlier portraits of artists such as Cliff Richard and David Bowie, before they had grown into the infamous personas we know today.
I especially enjoyed the memorabilia, around the photograph, rather than the photographs themselves. Magazines, fanzines, record sleeves, collectables, merchandise etc. There appeared covers and articles from 'Fabulous' magazine, Sunday newspaper coverage. here is an interesting excerpt from one of them.
"I'm not a well adjusted person. I've spent too long philosophising. Sometimes I feel I was never a teenager just an old man. I've already had most of the experiences that I'm likely to go through in the next 4o years." -David Bowie.
Article from girls magazine:
"David left school at sixteen having passed his O-levels and 3 A-levels (keep going you lot) since David started composing he has penned between 60-70 numbers, he only thinks ten of them are any good. Modesty! He has also recorded a few himself ' The laughing Gnome' and 'Love you 'til Tuesday' But alas none have made a chart impression, Not that that worries him, he makes enough money by his song writing and admits that he hardly makes a thing by his voice (very honest is our David)"
I felt that these pieces of ephemera helped to place the exhibition in context, It is impossible to image a time when these names were not famous, but it is refreshing to see their road to success, and the hard work they had to put in to get where they are now. with so many overnight celebrities today, it is good to remember how hard it used to be to make it. Perhaps a reason why these have stood the test of time.

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