© Steve Wood, 1981, Rare Portrait of Andy Warhol

"It is in his face that all posing vanishes and we see the true, delicate inner person."
(Steve Wood)

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In 1977, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager transformed the Studio 54 into a nightclub, with Jack Dushey as a financial backer. They operated the company as Broadway Catering Corp. Opening night was Apr 26, 1977 - 35 years ago today. It took only six weeks to transform the theater into a nightclub and cost $400,000.

Rubell and Schrager hired Ron Doud as interior designer and Brian Thompson as lighting designer. Jules Fisher and Paul Marantz, two well-known Broadway theatrical set-designers, helped convert the theater into a dance floor and created moveable, theatrical sets and lights using the original theatrical fly rails, which allowed for a constantly changing environment. (+)

These images capture the world’s most famous nightclub Studio 54 during its 33-month existence, populated by celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart and Andy Warhol. The wild success of the 70s New York club has forever been put down to owner Steve Rubell’s first rule of partying:

'The key to a good party is filling a room with guests more interesting than you.'

By 1978, within a year of transforming it from a theatre to a nightclub, Studio 54 had made $7million and Rubell was quoted as saying 'only the Mafia made more money.' (read more)

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Related Post: Andy Warhol’s Studio 54 polaroids

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A Polaroid print of Studio 54 co-owner Steve Rubell and Grace Jones snapped by Andy Warhol went for $10,000 at an auction of ephemera from the legendary 70s New York club in Miami in January. Most of the lots from Rubell’s personal collection went for far in excess of their estimates at the Modernauctions sale.

The prices were driven by photographic collectors who snapped up celebrity shots of Cher, Sly Stallone, Bianca Jagger, the Kennedy children, Steven Tyler and Truman Capote.

Many former Studio 54 regulars and employees were at the auction, including cross-dressing Fort Lauderdale artist Electra, a celebrity imitator at the club who worked as a hostess at Saturday’s auction wearing a white afro wig and her original 70s roller-disco skates.

The Studio 54 door policy was legendarily tough, with Rubell policing it assidulously. He once refused admission to the king of Cyprus, “because he looked like somebody from Queens”.

There was one poignant moment when a former bartender at the club was gazumped in his efforts to buy a $1500 Polaroid of himself partying with Diana Ross back in the day. The auction booklet had quoted an expected price of between $300 and $600. "I can’t really go beyond $400," the tender said before the auction. "I’ve been a bartender my whole life. I’m not a rich man.” (read more)

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Related Post: Steve Rubell & the legendary Studio 54

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“i’m bored with that line. i never use it anymore. my new line is: in 15 minutes everybody will be famous.”

© Dennis Hopper

#1: Double Standard, 1961, Los Angeles, USA
#2: Andy Warhol and Members of The Factory (Gregory Markopoulos, Taylor Mead, Gerard Malanga, Jack Smith), 1963, in The Factory, NYC, USA

#3: James Rosenquist, 1964, Billboard Factory, Los Angeles, USA
#4: Photobook “The Lost Album”

 Exhibition “Dennis Hopper – The Lost Album, Vintage Photographs of the 1960s

The exhibition at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin shows a spectacular portfolio of over four hundred vintage photographs taken by Dennis Hopper (1936-2010) in the 1960s. Tucked away in five crates and forgotten, they were discovered after his death. There can be no doubt that these works are those personally selected by Hopper from the wealth of shots he took between 1961 and 1967 for the first major exhibition of his photography. The pictures themselves document how the works were installed in the Fort Worth Art Center Museum, Texas, in 1969 by himself and Henry T. Hopkins, the museum’s director at the time. None of these works have been displayed in Europe before.

The portfolio that has now come to light is a treasure. It consists of small plates, sometimes numbered on the back with brief notes in Hopper’s hand and showing traces of wear. Mounted on cardboard, without frame of glass, they were attached directly to the wall and kept in place by small strips of wood.

The images have a legendary quality. Spontaneous, intimate, poetic, unabashedly political and keenly observed, they document an exciting epoch, its protagonists and milieus. These photographs reflect the atmosphere of an era, being outstanding testimonials to America’s dynamic cultural scene in the 1960s. On the viewer they exercise an irresistible attraction, bearing him away on a journey into the past, often into his own history. (read more)

Find uncropped versions of the original scans here.

Exhibition dates:
Sep. 20 - Dec. 17, 2012

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© Weegee (aka Arthur Fellig), ca. 1967, Portrait of Andy Warhol

Years after he left Los Angeles, Weegee met Andy Warhol in New York. A surprising photograph of the two of them together, as well as Weegee’s kaleidoscopic portrait of Warhol’s face, reveal an uncanny intergenerational link between two men who saw, and manipulated, the potency of celebrity images. Weegee aimed for laughs and raised eyebrows, but even when completely warped, his photographs reveal the barest truths of Hollywood. (read more)

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