A new show from the archives of visual artist Laura Levine opens July 21st at Steven Kasher Gallery, a space known mostly for its rock n’ roll photography. Levine was a prominent and deeply enmeshed music photographer in the 1980s and early 90s, shooting some of the most recognizable faces in London, New York, and LA.
Boy George London 1982 © Laura Levine
The collection at Kasher Gallery includes images of everybody from The Beastie Boys to Bjork to Captain Beefheart, all photographed in signature style and looking at ease in front of Levine’s camera. Vacillating from the dramatically staged (a spotlit portrait of Henry Rollins, displaying the large tattoo on his back) to the candid (the band DNA opening sodas on a street corner looking startled by a pop of Levine’s flash), each photograph seems genuine and intimate in a way that music photography hasn’t in recent years.
The Clash NYC 1981 © Laura Levine
In every image of rappers posturing and singer-songwriters dolefully gazing off, there’s an element of control and self-seriousness (on the part of both photographer and subject) that is missing in Levine’s work, though her subjects often seem to have direction. Without the retouching and branding that so often accompanies our images of Beyonce or Katy Perry, the result is an honest look at close friends instead of a marketing campaign. Levine stopped shooting in 1994 to focus on her work in other media, but dipped into her photographic archive to bring us this energetic exhibit, up through August 19th.
Joey Ramone, NYC, 1982 © Laura Levine