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Who Shot Rock?

Who Shot Rock and Roll
Who Shot Rock and Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present is a photography exhibit that has come to the Columbia Museum of Art, and having gotten a chance to see it myself, I can say it’s a wonderfully entertaining, enlightening experience.

The exhibit covers the music genre from its birth to now, with photos, album covers, and music videos all on display.  Far from just a predictable collection of staged portraits and performances, the content of the photos is varied and frequently compelling, such as the candid shot of Kurt Cobain breaking down in tears backstage after a concert.  Other pictures were taken with very interesting techniques, like the massive panorama of a Madonna show, made using shots of several concerts at the same location taken from the same vantage point.

Every sub-genre is covered, from the intensity and intimacy of punk shows to the gigantic scale of stadium rock and the surreality of progressive rock.  I was particularly pleased to see a section dedicated to the works of Storm Thorgerson and his old graphic design group Hipgnosis.  There are also some great bits of history, including the slightly out-of-focus photo of Bob Dylan that would become the cover of Blonde on Blonde. The breadth of the exhibit is surprisingly large, offering something for anyone who appreciates rock and roll in any of its forms.  For anybody with even a passing interest in the imagery or history of rock music, or just really compelling photography, Who Shot Rock and Roll comes highly recommended.