Through September 13, 2015
Museum of the City of New York
1220 5th Ave
The Museum of the City of New York presents HIP-HOP REVOLUTION: Photographs by Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo, and Martha Cooper, an exhibition that shows the historic early days of hip-hop culture and music, with its roots firmly in New York, and how it evolved towards the worldwide phenomenon it is today.
The exhibition shows the birth of a new cultural movement—with its accompanying music, dance, fashion and style—as it quickly and dramatically swept from its grassroots origins into an expansive commercial industry.
Hip-Hop Revolution presents more than 100 photographs taken between 1977 and 1990 by the three preeminent New York-based photographers—Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo, and Martha Cooper.
Hip-hop culture, incorporating such elements as DJ-ing, MC-ing (rapping), and breaking (dancing), was born on the streets of New York City in the 1970s, largely in the Bronx and Manhattan, and grew to have a global impact on popular culture that continues to the present day. The exhibition showcases the experiences of each photographer during these seminal years, as DJs, MCs, and B-boys and B-girls (breakdancers) were innovating, and developing new forms of self-expression. The work of these photographers—featuring early figures such as Afrika Bambaata, Kool Herc, and Cold Crush Brothers, breakers such as Rock Steady Crew and the Dynamic Rockers, and acts such as Run DMC and the Beastie Boys.
The three photographers came to hip-hop music and culture in dramatically different ways and with distinct perspectives. Joe Conzo was a teenager in school when he started photographing the early hip- hop scene in the Bronx. He photographed groups such as the legendary Cold Crush Brothers in early performances, and showed a scene that started on the streets, in high school gyms, and nightclubs.
Martha Cooper, a legendary documentary photographer, began taking pictures when she was three, eventually earned degrees in both art and anthropology, and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. She fell in love with street culture in New York in the 1970s and has pursued this direction in her work ever since, becoming seen as one of the most significant photographers of both the graffiti and hip-hop scenes. She shot the first known photos of breaking after seeing B-Boys dancing in the subway in 1980. She has published more than a dozen books on a variety of subjects, and her photographs have appeared in hundreds of magazines worldwide.
Janette Beckman was an experienced music photographer in Britain, having photographed the nascent punk rock scene for magazines and record companies—including three Police album covers. She was drawn to the energy of the developing New York hip-hop scene and moved to the city in 1982. She quickly became one of the leading photographers of the exploding movement, specializing in portraits and including iconic photo shoots of Run DMC, Salt’n’Pepa, and LL Cool J.
Besides the more than 100 photographs, the exhibition includes listening stations for the music of performers documented in the exhibition, as well as flyers about early hip-hop performances, newspaper clippings, books and other paper artifacts of the era.
The exhibition is designed by Marissa Martonyi.
The Museum of the City of New York celebrates and interprets the city, educating the public about its distinctive character, especially its heritage of diversity, opportunity, and perpetual transformation. Founded in 1923 as a private, nonprofit corporation, the Museum connects the past, present, and future of New York City. It serves the people of New York and visitors from around the world through exhibitions, school and public programs, publications, and collections.