Pace Gallery Opens Show Spanning 70 Years Of Music Photography

Opening today at Pace Gallery’s flagship location in New York is a collaborative photography show curated by Mark Beasley across the gallery’s two floors. Titled Studio to Stage: Music Photography from the Fifties to the Present, the show presents the world of legendary photographers whose lenses were pointed at music and musicians over the past 70 years. From Irving Penn to Richard Avedon, to Janette Beckman and Itzel Alejandra Martinez these photographers captured musical genres that span from the blues and DC Hardcore to Acid House and alternative Hip Hop.

“There are many never-before-seen images, such as Nick Waplington’s series of images from 90’s New York underground clubs like the Sound Factory. The look and feel of those scenes set the precedent for today’s club landscape and gender fluidity,” explains Beasley. “Stand-outs also include Ming Smith’s images of Sun Ra, Ari Marcoupolos’ previously unseen films of David Hammond and Pink Siifu, and–a personal favorite– Rankin’s seminal image of the Spice Girls, the queens of 90’s girl power.”

The show presents much more than musicians; It presents the world that encompasses musical performance such audiences and legendary venues to create a visual depiction of contemporary music history through photography.

“It covers a history of music presented via the lens and eye of the photographer either shot on assignment or as a friend of the musician or musicians,” says Beasley. “For instance, in the work of Kevin Cummins, we move from David Bowie to the Sex Pistols through Joy Division to the Happy Mondays. With Janette Beckmann, we progress from the birth of punk in New York to the beginnings of Hip Hop with Run DMC, LL Cool J, and Salt-N-Pepa. The work of Rahim Fortune and Itzel Alejandra Martinez register new approaches and diverse scenes – from Fortune’s meditation upon the mood and look, as well as the sound of Mississippi and the blues, to Itzel Alejandra Martinez’s photographs of the crowd at Afro Punk and her body of work highlighting Latinx musicians and fans.”

The resulting show is a high-energy discourse of music imagery. Although, for Beasley, his motivation and inspiration were simple. “My main goal was to celebrate photographers and musicians, and to recognize the fluid exchange between musical genres and cultural scenes,” the curator says. “In music, there are no boundaries; Artists engage and collaborate across sounds and new music stems from a certain type of listening and understanding.”

Studio to Stage: Music Photography from the Fifties to the Present is currently on view at Pace Gallery in New York City until August 19th.

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