Baron Wolman – Woodstock at Proud Camden
Photographer Baron Wolman’s exhibition Woodstock, at Proud Camden, provides a fascinating and enlightening documentation of an unusual period in time: an era of peace, love, hippies and mass revolution. A very cool atmosphere prevails at the gallery as you walk in, with The Rolling Stones and other music from the Woodstock era creating the ambience of that generation.
As Rolling Stone Magazine‘s first chief photographer, Wolman was hired to cover the festival in 1969, and his photographs, also released as a book, are amazing. All are in black and white, except for two intriguing colour images of Carlos Santana and Grace Slick.
Taking place at Max Yasgur’s farm in the Catskills, upstate New York, Woodstock was an emblem of the time, and the photographer’s work takes us there with striking, candid shots of concert-goers walking or driving to the event, hanging out, or bathing nude next to a field of cows, along with some unusual juxtapositions, such as “Group of People Gather Around a US Helicopter”. The relaxed, hedonistic atmosphere is palpable as we peer through a window into another lifestyle, a world in transition that rocked history.
Although primarily assigned to photograph the musicians, Wolman admits he was much more intrigued by the groups of hippies: “I ended up spending most of my time out in the wild with the crowd because what was happening ‘out there’ was just too interesting not to explore.”
That said, the artist’s portraits of the bands and music icons are spectacular. Depictions of Janis Joplin, John Lenin, the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and The Rolling Stones are remarkable both artistically and as insightful expressions of the subjects’ characters and essences. On one wall are brilliantly conceived intimate portraits of the musicians, and a few unrelated to Woodstock itself: superb close-ups of Dylan, David Bowie, Hendrix, Debbie Harry (Blondie), Mohammed Ali, Amy Winehouse and an extraordinary photo of Andy Warhol with his muse Edie Sedgwick in a kind of geometric dance pose, seemingly suspended in mid-air next to the Empire State Building in New York.
In Wolman’s words, “No one could have predicted the enduring influence of the Woodstock experience…in unexpected ways, Woodstock became more than a concert for all of us.” 47 years later, it is fascinating to learn through these exceptional photos about a time that has changed history. Woodstock is a remarkable collection of work.
Baron Wolman – Woodstock is at Proud Camden from 28th July until 11th September 2016, for further information visit here.
For further information about Baron Wolman visit here.