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Rock & Roll Photo Exhibit at the Currier


Last week, rock photographer Barry Feinstein died.

While the name might not ring a bell, he shot the cover of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changing" and Janis Joplin's "Pearl," and countless others.

His photographs, as well as works from other famous and not-so-famous rock photographers, are on display at the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester.

The exhibit captures some of Rock and Roll’s biggest icons.

The photos aren’t posed promo shots, but intimate off-stage photos rarely seen by the public.

Whether it’s the Beatles clowning around with Mohammad Ali, or Tina Weymouth joining forces with Grandmaster Flash, , Backstage Pass: Rock & Roll Photography will likely appeal to all generations.

Nina Bozicnik, Assistant Curator at the Currier Museum of Art, says the exhibit offers a rare glimpse of the person behind the performer..

"The nearly 175 photographs that are in this exhibition capture moments that are alternatives to the glamorous sort of Rock & Roll images that are typically associated with the music."

Back then, photographers were truly ‘with the band’ and looking at their works today we have the privilege to join them; whether it be standing on a street corner with Springsteen, protesting with Patti Smith, or rambling down that railroad with Bob Dylan.

These images strive to portray their subjects in fuller dimension. In some, they look surprisingly normal. Surrounded by commuters on an airport bus, Sid Vicious goes about his business as usual; however, in this ironic image by Bob Gruen, social norms are flipped as he’s the only one attending to his newspaper.

"These photographers were developing personal relationships with the musicians and had this access that allowed them to capture these moments that now maybe aren’t as easy to obtain."

However mundane they appear; some images are a magnificent mix of high and low. In Nat Finkelstein’s famous black-and-white triptych, art and music converge:

"You see Andy Warhol, this cultural rock star/pop artist conversing with Dylan in Warhol’s infamous factory studio and in the middle of them is a cardboard cut-out of Elvis."

The camera has the power to amplify loud personalities, but with a sensitive eye, it can also strip down to silence.

"One image in particular that’s very striking for me is the one of John Coltrain by William Claxton that’s this incredible profile of the musician in the Guggenheim Museum in New York with this abstract painting and it’s just this very quiet, introspective moment."

Charting over fifty years of music history, the private collection records the birth of rock,  and the emergence of Jazz, Punk, and Rap.

It also serves as a cultural snapshot.

"The very poignant thing about music and rock music in particular, is that it does have this intergenerational appeal. You know they are looking to precedence before them and that just allows for such an opening up of communication between people and conversations."

Backstage Pass: Rock & Roll Photography may make one wonder if the greatest albums of all time are in fact photo albums. The exhibit is on view now at The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester until January 15, 2012.