Austin is home to many blues greats that retained the mystery of largely unsung national fame. Not the Rolling Stones. But a series of photographs by Norman Seeff from a session with the band in 1972 still have that glow. The vintage, rare, and unseen images will be on display at Modern Rocks Gallery in the Canopy creative community on Springdale Road.
The collection, “Fifty Years in Exile” — referencing the album “Exile on Main St.,” and certainly not the Stones’ reputation or public demand for memorabilia — contains images from the shoot for promotional postcards that were packaged with the first pressing of the album. The ghostly but celebratory black and white images, which now sell for thousands, show the band raucously fraternizing with women, everyone dressed in early 20th century finery and slightly obscured by a thick haze.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to be hosting ‘Fifty Years In Exile,’” said Modern Rocks owner Steven Walker in a press release. “These original darkroom prints are testament to Norman Seeff’s greatness as both a photographer and an artist.”
The images were first displayed at the Rock Photography Museum in Los Angeles until July 17, and are moving to Modern Rocks with some new prints made specially for the show from August 19 to September 20. There’s more than the campy retro vignettes; a preview shows black and white images of the band, relatively stoic with hair blowing back.
The full collection came together as a result of Seeff rifling through archival imagery in his basement. (Where else would one keep rare images of one of the most famous bands of all time?) Reviving the prints, to the artist, represents expanding byproducts of old work into new art. This is not the first time the gallery has shown Seeff’s work, and it shares work about the Rolling Stones often, by various photographers.
“I’ve always wanted to use my photography as source material for creating art pieces,” said Seeff in the release. “The photos serve as a jumping off point. I decided to use the exhibition as an opportunity to experiment. People have been very pleased with the results I think.”
Susto Mezcal CEO Mark Shilling will help celebrate the exhibit at a grand opening with a Rolling Stones-themed cocktail as obscurely named as the white fog in the photographs: “Soul Survivor.” Tumblin’Dice Bourbon will also be served straight. The public reception begins at 7 pm.
More information about the exhibition and opening is available at modernrocksgallery.com.