August was a lively month at D’Stassi Art! The London flagship gallery opened its doors to D’Stassi’s first ever photography exhibition featuring works by Bob Gruen and Leee Black Childers. Rock and Roll legends hung from the gallery's recently renovated space, featuring iconic images alongside photos that were made viewable to the public for the first time. Curated by Stephen Colegrave - coauthor of the definitive text Punk - A Life Apart (2010) - the exhibition represented the changing face of the music scene of the 1970’s. In line with D’Stassi’s continually evolving ethos, contemporary London-based artists were invited to reinterpret the featured photographs by Gruen and Childers.
Immediately upon entering the gallery, you were confronted with the images of the larger than life personalities captured by Gruen and Childers. 45 photographs carefully selected depicted the exciting and intimate lives of rock’s biggest stars, from the viewpoint of two photographers who were deeply embedded in their lives. The hallway between the bar and larger gallery was plastered with vintage punk posters, transporting you back into the world Gruen and Childers so lovingly documented. D’Stassi’s collectors lounge was transformed with personalised Rock inspired cocktails.
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.
The opening event, held on the 29th July, brought out record breaking numbers of visitors and collectors alike. The vibe was set by the amazing rockabilly band - The Polecats whose performance encaptured the vibrant and loud past surrounding them. They literally rocked the building.
As always, D’Stassi hosted a beautiful collectors' dinner the evening before for the artist and an intimate few. A fantastic three-course meal with signature cocktails – named and flavored to integrate beautifully with titles reminiscent of the icons captured by Guren and Childers.
Following this, D’Stassi offered An Evening with Bob Gruen, where the audience of the event got to hear firsthand the secrets behind the images, from Bob and special guest Smutty Smiff. Smutty’s band, Levi and the Rockats, was managed by Leee and now he manages the Leee Black Childers Estate. He was integral to bringing the previously unseen images to light, alongside curator Stephen Colgrave. Between Bob and Smutty the unique stories behind the photographs were shared.
The D'Stassi Art team