East Village photographer Bobby Grossman brings back the vintage NYC art and music scene with exhibit


If you were hanging out in downtown New York with your camera in the late 70’s and early 80’s, you could take some cool shots of your friends sitting in a scrapbook somewhere. Bobby Grossman is certainly, but his friends were Chris Stein, Debbie Harry, Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Byrne and Andy Warhol.

Silver gelatin prints are applied to the walls of his new solo exhibition “Low Fidelity” in Howl, mainly taken between 1976 and 1983! Art / Howling! The archive is looking for a slightly invisible hiding place, as it is an image that is not as widespread as by some of his peers. About 25% of the wall photos have never been published.

Most of the images were taken for Grossman to take pictures of his world, sometimes for use as an icebreaker, rather than for assignment or documentary purposes.

“I’m basically shy,” he admits. “It was easy to meet people on the camera.”

After studying art at RISD, Grossman landed at the Chelsea Hotel in Room 911, opposite the legendary composer Virgil Thomson. Working at his father’s shirt factory, he supplemented illustration assignments from publications such as Rock Magazine, Rolling Stone, Soho Weekly News, and several “Girly Magazines” and became an assistant to illustrator Richard Bernstein. I did.

But “going out in the evening became more important,” he meditated. “I was in the right place at the right time. I was very lucky to be there. Little by little, I was able to meet everyone I wanted to meet.”

Grossman felt that his image was of some value, but it was the ingenious hip-hop artist Fab 5 Freddy who brought the points home. “What you are doing is very important,” Freddie reminds him. “And he was right — look at the archive I have 40 years later.”

Shepard Fairey mural using photos of Robbie Grossman and Debbie Harry from Bleecker and Bowery as source materialPhoto by Bob Krasner
Graphic designer / artist Marlene Weisman has obtained a copy of “Bande A Part”, a collection of vintage photographs of downtown New York signed by Grossman.Photo by Bob Krasner
Artist Collet and Angelic Bobby Grossman at the openingPhoto by Bob Krasner
Bobby Grossman and Patty Astor still having funPhoto by Bob Krasner
Walter Stedding and Grossman in front of the 1979 Steding photo. Steading wears the exact same hat as in the photo. “It’s Holston,” he said. “It’s quality.”Photo by Bob Krasner

According to Cynthia Sley, a founding member of Bush Tetras, Howl! Looking at her work, she is said to be engaged in “an intimate and wonderful journey through New York’s underground art and music scene.”

Photographer Godris, known for his iconic midnight available light images taken from CBGB, appreciates the completely different approach taken by Grossman, who almost always used flash.

“His quick and easy shooting style was an artist’s remark in itself,” he says. “He took pictures as if his life was changed by rock and roll.”

“These images were born here and seem to be back home. This event is like a long-awaited fun reunion,” said Whitney Newman, an artist from Atlanta to attend the opening. increase.

But for some, it’s a bittersweet experience. Patia Star, co-founder of the first East Village Gallery “Fan Gallery,” looked around and said, “I’m in tears. It’s not like looking back, it’s like being there. To me, they are just friends and many are gone. “

Walter Steding, a musician and painter represented by portraits in 1979, was still a standing figure and was clearly pleased to be there.

“It’s just amazing!” He shouts. “It still feels fresh. Look at that shot of Jean-Michel — he’s sitting in a chair I still own.”

LR: Oscar O’Brien (son of the late Glenn O’Brien), Bobby Grossman, Emily PavisPhoto by Bob Krasner
Grossman’s contemporaries, Godris, pointed out that their styles were different but complementary.Photo by Bob Krasner
Reminiscent of photographer Dustin Pittman, left, snapshot, GrossmanPhoto by Bob Krasner

However, it is not only the veterans of the scene who appreciate Grossman’s work.

21-year-old Emily Pavis chooses to write about the photographer for a new school mission after discovering him through the son of the late Glenn O’Brien, known as the first editor of Warhol’s “Interview”. “Bitter” magazine and Grossman created the local cable show “TV Party”, which was “unofficially an official photographer”.

“Bobby’s photos really make a lot of sense to me,” says Pavis. “Photos shed light on what seems to be a long way from today. The candidness of William S. Burrows, Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry, who expose creativity and artistry before the distractions and influences of social media and digital technology. Photos. They also act as time capsules to commemorate and remember what we lost. “

Grossman left the scene for a while and lived in Florida, “taking countless pictures of my dog,” planning a book that’s just becoming a reality, about 12 years after he started putting it together. Did.

With the help of the Waverly Press and the just-announced Kick Starter effort, the 224-page work planned includes a cover photo of Debbie Harry and Lou’s that Shepard Fairey used as the basis for the Blondie murals of Bowie and Bleecker. Shots include Reed, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Alex Chilton, Andy Warhol and more.

Waverly’s Grossman editor, Dagon James, expressed his enthusiasm for the project.

“We live in an era where virtually every noteworthy photo is seen and every story is told countless times,” he says. “People like Bobby Grossman rarely bring in huge, almost invisible archives from this important era when art, music and fashion were reshaped and redefined.” “Low Fidelity” is a book that offers a valuable opportunity to give something new to those who see it. “

As for Grossman, he celebrates 30 years of drinking, looks forward to publication, and counts his blessings.

“I’m still here,” he says. “And most of the people on these walls are gone.”

For more information on Bobby Grossman, please visit bobbygrossman.com or [email protected]_grossman. For more information on his show, please visit howlarts.org.


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