London Art Reviews

Magazine of art press and reviews from London

The “Exhibitionism” of The Rolling Stones at the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Exhibitionism, The Rolling Stones © Saatchi Gallery, London

Exhibitionism, The Rolling Stones © Saatchi Gallery, London

London – The Saatchi Gallery presented Exhibitionism an amazing show about The Rolling Stones. With over 500 objects coming from the band’s personal archives, “Exhibitionism” at the Saatchi Gallery provided a broad overview on The Rolling Stones, spanning from their beginning in the 1960’s in London to the present days.

Exhibitionism was displayed across two entire floors at the prominent Saatchi Gallery in London, and in nine themed rooms, each with its own distinctly designed environment, that demonstrated how the band has changed our understanding of rock and roll.

Spanning over 1,750 square metres, it included art & design, film, video, fashion, performance, and rare sound archives, and with artworks by Andy Warhol, David Bailey, Jeff Koons, Walton Ford, and Shepard Fairey. Collaborations and work by the enormous range of artists, designers, musicians and writers were also presented in the exhibition – from Alexander McQueen and Ossie Clark to Tom Stoppard and Martin Scorsese.

Mick Jagger commented: “We’ve been thinking about this for quite a long time but we wanted it to be just right and on a large scale. The process has been like planning our touring concert productions and I think that right now it’s an interesting time to do it.”

The Saatchi Gallery exhibition was focused on the band musical legacy. The Rolling Stones started as a dynamic London blues band in the early 1960’s. Soon they became famous and nowadays they represent a cultural model worshipped by legions of fans.

Keith Richards commented: “While this is about The Rolling Stones, it’s not necessarily only just about the members of the band. It’s also about all the paraphernalia and technology associated with a group like us, and it’s this, as well as the instruments that have passed through our hands over the years, that should make the exhibition really interesting.”

With a new interactive approach, Exhibitionism has taken three years of scrupulous planning. It was an exploration of the huge Rolling Stones artistic opus. With backgrounds made of unseen videos and rare video clips, on display there were unusual guitars and instruments, key outfits, unique stage designs, dressing room and backstage paraphernalia, personal memoirs and letters, original bills and album cover artwork, and it was possible to listen to rare audio tracks together with exclusive film demonstrations.

Ronnie Wood said: “The scene was great down the King’s Road in the 1960’s. That was where you went to hang out to watch the fashions go by. So it is appropriate that our Exhibitionism will be housed at the wonderful Saatchi Gallery.”

The exhibition started with an introductory ‘Experience’, evoking the high points of the band’s career through a new film, with an energetic soundtrack. It then continued with the beginnings of the Rolling Stones and presented an amazing journey of the rock icon group.

Charlie Watts added: ‘’It’s hard to believe that it’s more than fifty years since we began and it is wonderful to look back to the start of our careers and bring everything up to date at this exhibition.’’

The Rolling Stones were often named the ‘The Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band’. However, nowadays the group looks more similar to a multinational business. As in the contemporary exhibition style, Exhibitionism last stop was at the gift shop, high prices for a small object. The Rolling Stones are an expensive experience, and the exhibition tickets were not cheap.

There is a new forthcoming album ‘Blue & Lonesome’ (2016) in few weeks, and there is an ongoing tour with sold outs stadiums.

This reminded that today The Rolling Stones turned into a big business more than a rock band. They broke the barriers

Exhibitionism, The Rolling Stones © Saatchi Gallery, London

Exhibitionism, The Rolling Stones © Saatchi Gallery, London

in the past but today it is more about corporate. For example, it is difficult to explain to a youngster that the Jagger’s ass- shacking move was once a slap in the face of the conformist English society: he would probably find it meaningless and think it is an age- associated matter.

The Saatchi Gallery exhibition was probably not really keen to The Rolling Stones members’ real life, although it deeply analysed their private and human side. Much criticised was the installation of the famous one bedroom flat they shared in 102 Edith Grove, in Chelsea, London, as it probably exaggerated some aspects and hidden others. For example, weekly mummy was coming to wash piles of bohemian clothes. Or for instance, it put aside the abuse of substances and alcohol.

An ungenerous comparison was made with David Bowie Is exhibition, at the V&A Museum which is now successfully touring the world. Bowie has been such a versatile artist, a master of self-reinvention. The Rolling Stones have spent fifty four years of career in doing more or less the same music, with similar lifestyle.

The quantity and choice of objects was interesting, including pages of diaries of Richards or the Wyman bass amps, or the guitars of Wood. Remarkable it was the recreation of a backstage area. A collection of customs worn by the band in the 1970s confirmed Exhibitionism explored The Rolling Stones love for mixing different form of arts. They paved the way to new concepts of the live show – with scale models of the stages and a video.

Exhibitionism was promoted and presented by Australian company iEC (International Entertainment Consulting) with the full participation of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood. The international tour is presented by DHL.

Following the London exhibition, Exhibitionism will visit eleven other global cities around the world over a four year period. Next opening is New York City in few days.

From 6th April until 4th September 2016, the Rolling Stones exhibition “Exhibitionism” was at the Saatchi Gallery, London.

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This entry was posted on June 23, 2018 by in Museums, Reviews and tagged , , .


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