The Rolling Stones’ 1972 double album Exile On Main St. is one of the most iconic rock records ever released. At the time, the band were living in a villa in France, in tax exile from the U.K. Mick Jagger had wanted the artwork to reflect The Stones as runaway outlaws. For the inner packaging of the album, Jagger came up with the idea of postcards depicting the band on a ship fleeing their oppression and seeking exile. The result of that photo shoot as well as some other peripheral shots of Jagger and Keith Richards, are the subject of a Rock Photography Museum special exhibition, on display now in Glendale, CA.
Norman Seeff started out as a physician in South Africa in the 1960’s. Certain circumstances made it impossible for him to stay in his native country and he found himself in The Big Apple, cutting his teeth, photographing people on the mean streets of New York City. Within a few years, he was offered the creative directorship at United Artists Records. While in that position, he would photograph some of the most famous musicians in the world. Subsequently his work would include taking shots of CEO’s, world leaders, and numerous others in the public eye. This particular exhibit focuses on the shots he and his business partner, Ann Mattiello dug up in his archives. Some of which have never been seen by the general public.
The Rock Photography Museum is the brain child of Drew Evans, who believes that this form of art needs to be preserved and available for the world to see. The museum is currently in a series of four different exhibitions, this being the second of those. On display at 123 N. Artsakh Ave., in Glendale, CA are many of the prints from the shoot for the postcards which were included in the inner packaging for the record. Also on display are some images of Richards and Jagger alone and some of them in tandem. If you are a fan of that time period of rock in general, or if you just like pop-culture of any period, the exhibit is sure to pique your interest.
The artist himself was on hand on Saturday, May 14th and addressed a room full of media and other special guests. Seeff related his learnings along the way, and how he can get the result that he wanted. Which is exactly what he learned that you should not do. According to Seeff, “Do not start out with a result in mind. Be ready for whatever happens and open to it.” It seems that this, in his experience, is the way to get something nobody ever expected. He would also impart that he discovered that building a relationship with the subject would garner trust and therefore put them at ease. In this state both he and his client could surrender to the moment and create together. One of the most poignant statements Seeff uttered while addressing those in attendance, may sum up his whole approach. “Great artists give themselves permission to be heroic and jump into the unknown.”
The exhibit runs currently through June 12th. See the Rock Photography Museum’s website at www.rockphotographymuseum.com for specific hours and days of operation.