Bob Gruen and Leee Black Childers: 'Legendary Moments'

Curated by Stephen Colegrave

July 29 - August 19, 2022


"New Photography Exhibition Brings Iconic and Never-Before-Seen Images from the 1970s Rock & Punk Music Scene to D’Stassi Art, curated by Stephen Colegrave"

29 July - 19 August 2022

D’Stassi Art is pleased to present Legendary Moments - a new exhibition bringing together some of the most memorable moments from the rock and punk music scene of the 1970s, shot by legendary rock photographers Bob Gruen and Leee Black Childers. 

On view from Friday 29 July until Friday 19 August, iconic and never-before-seen images will chronicle the vibrant scene of 1970s punk music and culture from the underground worlds of London to downtown New York. Curated by Stephen Colegrave - coauthor of the definitive text, Punk – A Life Apart (2010), the new exhibition presents photography by Gruen and Childers whose works collectively represent the best record of the changing music scene of the 1970s. 

In keeping with the continuously evolving spirit of the movement, D’Stassi Art has invited several contemporary artists to freely reinterpret the featured photographs by Gruen and Childers, creating fresh dialogues between the original legendary figures, and the newest generation of renegades such as London-based contemporary artists ENDLESS, Hackney Dave, Rugman, Craig Keenan and more. 

Deeply embedded within the communities they photographed, both documented a pivotal era in music when the industry’s focus shifted from established stars like Elvis Presley and John Lennon, to up-and-coming punk bands like the New York Dolls and the Sex Pistols. Capturing the raw intensity and excitement of an era of possibility where stardom felt within reach of anyone and everyone, Legendary Moments brings us a rare glimpse into the lives of larger-than-life figures, from the viewpoints of those who knew them best. 

Amongst these are Gruen’s haunting portraits of Alice Cooper and Salvador Dali, and a selection of snapshots that span the early New York scene with the New York Dolls and the Ramones, and with the UK bands The Clash and the Sex Pistols. Gorgeous photos of the rock icon Debbie Harry are interspersed throughout, along with photos of John Lennon, who was close to Gruen when he lived in New York in 1971. 

Many of Childers’ photographs will also be unveiled for the first time, thanks to the ambitious undertaking of Colegrave and Smutty Smith who searched through thousands of film negatives in the late artist’s brother’s home in the US. Together, they scanned and restored the 45-year-old negatives, and selected the best works to debut at D’Stassi Art, partnering with premier fine art photography printer Bayeux. These include rare images of Debbie Harry before she was blonde, a very young Michael Jackson on the drums with the Jackson Five, the only shots in existence of the Sex Pistols on stage in Manchester and Leeds during their notorious “Anarchy” tour, and amazing pictures of Elvis Presley at the International Hilton press conference before his show at Madison Square Gardens in 1972. 

Marking Gruen’s first major exhibition in the UK since 2014, Legendary Moments will also see his first ever UK limited edition. In addition to these iconic prints, Gruen has collaborated with renowned printmaker Gary Lichtenstein on a new series of original screenprints, digitally printed on canvas for the exhibition, adding new dimension and texture to G ruen’s storied images. 

Colegrave’s curation celebrates the spectacle of fame while shining light upon the real people beneath its veneer. The independent energy of the time was epitomised by these innovators, creators, and disruptors, who have assumed cult status in the popular mythology of the late 20th century.  


Bob Gruen is one of the most well-known and respected photographers in rock and roll. From John Lennon to Johnny Rotten; Muddy Waters to the Rolling Stones; Elvis to Madonna; Bob Dylan to Bob Marley; Tina Turner to Debbie Harry, he has captured the music scene for over forty years in photographs that have gained worldwide recognition.

Bob Gruen's iconic image of John Lennon in the 'NYC T-SHIRT'
Bob Greun


Shortly after John Lennon moved to New York in 1971, Bob became John and Yoko’s personal photographer and friend, making photos of their working life as well as private moments. In 1974 he created the iconic images of John Lennon wearing a New York City t-shirt and standing in front of the Statue of Liberty making the peace sign – two of the most popular of Lennon’s images.

As chief photographer for Rock Scene Magazine in the ’70s, Bob specialized in candid, behind-the-scenes photo features. He toured extensively with the emerging punk and new wave bands including the New York Dolls, Sex Pistols, Clash, Ramones, Patti Smith Group, and Blondie. Bob has also worked with major rock acts such as Led Zeppelin, The Who, David Bowie, Tina Turner, Elton John, Aerosmith, Kiss, and Alice Cooper.



In 1989, he documented the epic trip to Russia of the “Moscow Music Peace Festival” featuring Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe, and Bon Jovi. For many years Bob was the official photographer for the New Music Seminar held in New York City, covering dozens of aspiring new bands in the course of a summer week. This seminal body of work reflects a profound commitment and long-standing personal friendship with the artists. His wealth of personal experiences and uncanny memory provide the most illuminating and comprehensive histories of rock youth culture.

“All Dolled Up,” a DVD documentary made by Bob Gruen and Nadya Beck of their early ’70s video footage of the New York Dolls, was released in 2005 with a follow-up DVD, “Lookin’ Fine On Television” released in 2011.

In the spring of 2007 FAAP University in Sao Paulo, Brazil presented an exhibition of Bob Gruen’s work. Titled ROCKERS, the exhibition attracted 40,000 visitors. The ROCKERS exhibition was also shown from April to July 2008 at Morrison Hotel Gallery on the Bowery in New York City. In 2020/21 a two floor exhibition at the Museum of Sound and Vision of Gruen’s John Lennon photos won an award as the best museum show of the year in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Bob’s “Sid Vicious with Hot Dog” photo was acquired by The National Portrait Gallery, London, in 1999 for their permanent collection. The Experience Music Project, Seattle, acquired his “Clash Live in Boston”, “Tina Turner Multiple Image”, and “Bloody Sid Vicious” photos for their permanent collection in March 2012.

In 2011 award-winning director Don Letts made a feature-length film titled ‘Rock & Roll Exposed – the Photography of Bob Gruen’ including interviews with Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Alice Cooper, Yoko Ono, Billie Joe Armstrong, and many more.

Bob was presented in June 2004 with MOJO Magazine’s prestigious Honours List Award for Classic Image in London and in November 2010 he was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. For his many charitable contributions, Bob received the first ever John Lennon Real Love Award in December 2014 at the 32nd Annual John Lennon Tribute Concert.

More recently In the past year Bob Gruen photographed Maneskin, Nile Rogers for Downtown Magazine’s cover and Ryan Adams at Carnegie Hall.



Most photographers have good working relationships with their subjects but few have managed, created, partied and lived with them like Leee Black Childers who spanned Warhol’s Factory, toured with Bowie, Iggy, the Heartbreakers and covered the Anarchy Tour. An essential character of New York’s underground scene of the late-1960s and ’70s, Leee was recognised for photographing rock stars, drag queens, poets and artists with a unique sensibility and sensitivity. No other photographer successfully managed bands at the same time - he was at the heart of the music scene and made the absurd so beautiful and iconic whether it was the Theatre of The Ridiculous, David Bowie with plastic flowers or Candy Darling and the other Warhol Super Stars. 

Always more than just a photographer, Leee arrived in New York from Kentucky with his camera in 1968. His bus took him to the steps of Christopher Street - known for where strangers, misfits, and outcasts roamed, including Andy Warhol’s ‘Drag Queen Super Stars’, made famous in Lou Reed’s track ‘Walk On The Wild Side’. Nobody has better and more intimate pictures of these than Leee, who became best friends with Jackie Curtis who later introduced him to Andy Warhol at his factory. Through this meeting, Leee went on to become one of finest Factory Photographers, with iconic images that still seem fresh today. 

David Bowie on the Trans-Siberian express in 1973
Leee Black Childers


In 1971, Leee went to London as the stage manager of the Warhol inspired play ‘Pork’ at the Camden Roundhouse starring Cherry Vanilla and Wayne County. Capturing the best images of these Warhol-inspired theatrical events including ‘Theatre of the Ridiculous’, there, he met David Bowie - the seminal person and moment of 1970s London. The absurd images and stage characters created by ‘Pork’ inspired David Bowie to reconsider his whole look and attitude, leading the artist to ask Leee to be his tour manager and official photographer for his next show and asked Cherry and Wayne to come along too. And so, Ziggy Stardust was born.

Leee’s collaboration with David Bowie is recorded in iconic images, the most haunting of which were taken on the Trans-Siberian Express. Finishing a concert in Japan, Bowie convinced his record company, MainMan, that he couldn’t fly, with Leee coming up with the idea of taking the Trans-Siberian Express back to Europe in the depth of winter. 

After touring with David Bowie, Leee worked as a tour manager for Iggy Pop who was at the centre of the Downtown New York early punk scene. Here, Leeee took historic shots of Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe, Debbie Harry, The New York Dolls and many others in this vibrant music and artist milieu which was centred on Warhol’s factory, CBGB and Max’s Kansas City. Leees’ relationship with Debbie Harry was particularly close and the images he discovered at the end of his life for the cover of his short autobiography are the most innocently beautiful ever taken. Also, Leee has the best early pictures of Debbie before she was blonde and when she performed with the Stilettos. 

After touring with Iggy, Leee concentrated on his photography and seemed content to continue documenting the Downtown scene, until Johnny Thunders who recently formed the Heartbreakers insisted he manage them. Although the band had a bad heroin habit, Leee proved to be a successful manager, securing them a good record deal and ensuring the band never missed a gig during the two and a half years he managed them. Importantly, managing the Heartbreakers put him at the very centre of the emerging UK punk scene, when Malcolm McLaren called from London and invited Leee to bring the band over to join the Sex Pistols on the infamous and historic Anarchy Tour. Of course, Leee didn’t forget his camera and his shots of the tour and the Sex Pistols are shot from an insider’s view as he was himself an important part of it. 

Leee’s documentary photos of “Pork” were shown at the Warhol Museum in the exhibition “Warhol Live: Music and Dance in Warhol’s Work” in 2009. His photographs of the punk scene have been shown worldwide. A book on his work, “Drag Queens, Rent Boys, Pick Pockets, Junkies, Rockstars & Punks,” was published in 2012.



Since the brand's inception in 2017, D'Stassi Art has established a unique platform for the world's most inspiring emerging talent. In the traditionally exclusive art world, D'Stassi Art looks to discover, encourage and help introduce clients to works of art based purely on how passionate we are about them. The gallery has helped to introduce a variety of the art world's clientele to important contemporary artists through immersive and inclusive events.

D'Stassi Art's main goal is to be as open and transparent as possible with a clear purpose to diversify contemporary art audiences. In its reluctance to simply follow the traditional gallery formula, D'Stassi Art is quickly becoming a key player in a world where art doesn't have to be experienced in an elitist, sterile, and often silent white-walled room. The gallery and its staff act as storytellers: primarily introducing clients to the story of some of the world's most gifted artists.


The D'Stassi Art team.