Aug 17, 2017 | By Quentin Humphrey
The creative energies of musicians, filmmakers, and intellectuals of New York’s post war avant-garde are brought together in an impressive, multimedia exhibition on at the Philharmonie de Paris this spring/summer.
Timed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico’ – the album with the famous banana cover signed by Andy Warhol – this extensive exhibition follows the story of the band, while also putting them in context with the broader underground scene happening at the time.
In mid-60’s New York, a subversive wave of creative thinkers and artists were rejecting the shiny, happy world projected by the American media after World War II and taking alternative paths, which broke rules and conventions. The exhibition explores the era with timelines, excerpts of cinema, archival material, documentary footage and photographs featuring prominent figures such as the Beat generation poet Allen Ginsberg, Lou Reed, John Cale, film-maker Barbara Rubin, fashion icon and muse Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol and Nico, the charismatic German model whom Warhol cast to sing with The Velvet Underground.
Black rooms and passages are cut with graphic fanzines and flyers, close-up photographs and mesmeric video montages. A large screen showing footage of Nico doing virtually nothing animates hypnotically from one wall. Visitors can lie down on mattresses under a tent-like structure and watch documentary footage of the Factory and New York City projected above onto a collage of canvases. The mix of media used in the exhibition purposefully emulates the mediums first used experimentally by Andy Warhol.
The exhibition is intellectually and visually stimulating, demanding that you submerse yourself in it.
You’ll feel dazed as you emerge back into the open, retro-futuristic arena of the Parc de la Villette, and ready to start your own creative revolution.
The exhibition is on at Philharmonie de Paris until 21 August 2016
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