Last week I visited the Mick Rock: Rock Music photography exhibition at Idea Generation in Bethnal Green, east London. This is an exhibition that I have been waiting for as the subjects Mick Rock has shot over the years are, to me, the embodiment of what the term ‘rock star’ really means.
Rock’s images expose the personalities of an array of subjects such as Madonna – on display is a single shot of her taken in 1980 a few years before she became a pop star – it is also a revealing indicator of what a star she would become; David Bowie – thought of as ‘living piece of artwork’ by Rock, he was Bowie’s official photographer during the Ziggy Stardust days; Debbie Harry – often referred to as the Marilyn Monroe of punk, Rock went one step further to seal her legend as the ‘Monroe of rock’; and Iggy Pop – decades before car insurance adverts – demonstrating his crazy stage antics in silver trousers.
Rock – known as “The Man who shot the 70s” – was also responsible for many classic and iconic album sleeves – Queen II inspired by a Marlene Dietrich shot that Freddie Mercury took a liking too and which was later copied to make the Bohemian Rhapsody video; Lou Reed’s Transformer album – this was shot during a performance in London as was the cover for Iggy Pop’s Raw Power which, incidentally was shot the following day.
Why I like Rock’s photography is because he captures the personalities and the core being in each subject – whether they are shot in a well lit studio, during a live performance, on a film set (Rock shot the stills for The Rocky Horror Picture Show) or just buying a dog. People are let loose to just be themselves and there are no pretenders – if there were, the camera would certainly give them away.
Rock is still an active photographer shooting the likes of Lady Gaga, Snoop Dogg, Kate Moss and actors of Japanese Kabuki theatre – all fantastic performers in one form or another.
The exhibition runs until 16th January 2011, and I would recommend getting a copy of the book that accompanies this exhibition – Mick Rock Exposed: The Faces of Rock ‘n’ Roll as there are 100s more spectacular images to be seen.
Monday to Friday: 10 – 6pm
Saturday & Sunday: 12 – 5pm
Post by Nicola Charalambous (Account Manager – Photography for TNR Communications)