Play It Loud- Instruments of Rock & Roll in a Major Exhibition at The Met

The first major exhibition in an art museum dedicated entirely to the iconic instruments of rock and roll will go on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Posted on 13/03/2019 By

In an extraordinarily curated exhibition, The Met brings to its audience yet another marvelous retrospective of the 20th century, the music that rocked and rolled the audiences worldwide, in an exclusive display of the instruments that were once the finger charms of all the music icons of this century. With its preview on April 1st, the exhibition will open to public from April 8–October 1, 2019 at The Met Fifth Avenue, Floor 1, Gallery 199.

Play It Loud- Instruments of Rock & Roll in a Major Exhibition at The Met - Global Fashion Street

From Elvis Presley to Lady Gaga, there are more than 130 instruments, the objects that created some great music at the hands of some of the best musicians from 1939-2017. Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Weymouth, Chuck Berry, James Hetfield, Elvis Presley, Ringo Starr, Kim Gordon, Patti Smith, Eddie Van Halen, Sheryl Crow, Joni Mitchell, Don Felder, St. Vincent, Wanda Jackson, Nancy Wilson, Keith Richards, Prince, Kate Pierson, Jimmy Page, Steve Miller, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Jett and Lady Gaga, amongst others – Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock & Roll is a major exhibition that will bring alive some great memories for everyone.

“Instruments are some of the most personal objects connected to musicians, but as audience members we are primarily used to seeing them from far away, up on a stage in performance. This exhibition will provide a rare opportunity to examine some of rock and roll’s most iconic objects up close,” remarked Jayson Kerr Dobney, Frederick P. Rose, the curator-in-Charge at The Met for the Department of Musical Instruments.

Organized thematically, Play It Loud will explore how musicians embraced and advanced emerging technologies; the phenomenon of the “Guitar Gods;” the crafting of a visual identity through the use of instruments; and the destruction of instruments in some live performances, one of rock’s most defining gestures. The exhibition will include many of rock’s most celebrated instruments, including such guitars as Jimi Hendrix’s electric guitar “Love Drops,” originally decorated by him; Eric Clapton’s “Blackie,” Eddie Van Halen’s “Frankenstein,” Jerry Garcia’s “Wolf,” and Joan Jett’s “Melody Maker,” and drums from Keith Moon’s “Pictures of Lily” drum set.

The exhibition intends to illustrate key components of the musical movement’s visual style and impact by presenting various rigs that were used during live performances and recordings along with individual sounds that the artists’ created on their own and some costumes of interesting origin or story behind. The show will also have some vintage posters and performance videos.

Some of the highlights of the exhibition include: Chuck Berry’s electric guitar ES-350T (1957), which was his primary guitar from 1957 until about 1963 and was used to record “Johnny B. Goode” Steve Miller’s electric guitar painted in psychedelic colours by Bob Cantrell for Steve Miller in 1973 and the ‘headless’ Steinberger bass guitar of Tina Weymouth that she used extensively with Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club through the late 1990s and the custom-designed piano of Lady Gaga’s that she played during her performance of ARTPOP in The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in 2014.

Keith Richards’s guitar known to have been used when the Rolling Stones appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1966 and later hand-painted by Richards. Also, the elaborately hand -embroidered Dragon costume of Jimmy Page that took more than a year to complete and which the singer wore for his Led Zeppelin live performances from the year 1975-77.

And then there’s an interesting sculpture made from the remains of Pete Townshend’s electric guitar that he smashed during a phot-shoot with Annie Leibovitz, published in Rolling Stone as “How to Launch Your Guitar in 17 Steps.”

The exhibition will travel to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in November 2019. This is the second collaboration between The Met and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame after Rock Style, which was presented at The Met in 1999.

“With its outstanding collection and comprehensive Department of Musical Instruments, The Met has for decades exhibited, celebrated, and contextualized the global artistic vision and extraordinary craftsmanship involved in developing musical instruments,” said Max Hollein, Director of the Museum.

“Play It Loud celebrates a formative chapter in 20th-century art and culture, and the extraordinary objects featured in this presentation convey the innovation, experimentation, passion, and rebellion at the heart of rock and roll. The exhibition allows us to appreciate the artistry of the instruments as well as their powerful role in the creation and expression of rock’s legendary sound and identity.”

As a part of the exhibition, The Met will also offer a variety of programs including talk shows and as a part of this show.

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