PORTLAND – Rock ‘n’ roll provided the soundtrack to American culture in the late 20th century.

And “Backstage Pass: Rock & Roll Photography,” drawn from the largest private collection of photographs of rock musicians in the United States, captures the intimate relationship between photographer and musician.

The exhibit featuring more than 200 photographs – many rarely seen by the public – will be on view at the Portland Museum of Art from Jan. 22 through March 22.

“Backstage Pass: Rock & Roll Photography” includes studio portraits and candid outtakes of famous rock ‘n’ roll stars from Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix to Madonna and Courtney Love.

The relationship between rock ‘n’ roll and photography is intimate and profound.

A rock musician’s career is predicated on a cult of personality – the ability to strike a pose and live the life – just as much as command of an instrument. Photographers have flocked to rock musicians for the fleeting opportunity to capture celebrity both on and off stage. “Backstage Pass” features images taken of famous musicians, including Elvis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Janis Joplin, The Who, Patti Smith, John Coltrane, Chet Baker, Grace Jones, Madonna, U2, Moby, Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain.

These classic images were captured by more than 50 photographers, including Lee Friedlander, Kate Simon, Laura Levine, Baron Wolman, Bob Gruen, Jim Marshall and Lynn Goldsmith.

The catalog for the exhibition was published by the PMA in association with Yale University Press. It features about 100 photographs and essays by authorities such as Greil Marcus, author, music journalist and cultural critic whose writings have appeared in The Rolling Stone, Artforum, the Village Voice and Creem; Glenn O’Brien, GQ’s Style Guy and editorial director of Brandt Publications; the producers of Art in America, Interview and The Magazine Antiques; Anne Tucker, the Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and author of The History of Japanese Photography (Yale); Photographer Laura Levine, whose work has appeared in The Rolling Stone, The New York Rocker and Sounds of the UK; and PMA Chief Curator Thomas Denenberg. The catalog will be available in the museum store in 2009.

The PMA is at Seven Congress Square in the downtown. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday; and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday. Admission is $ 10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students with I.D., $4 for youth ages 6 to 17; children under 6 admitted free. Admission is free from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday. For more information, call 775-6148 or visit portlandmuseum.org.


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