The Queens Museum in New York and GRAMMY Museum® in Los Angeles have announced they are partnering to present an unprecedented two-part exhibition celebrating the lasting influence of punk rock progenitors the Ramones. Hey! Ho! Let’s Go: Ramones and the Birth of Punk will open on April 10, 2016, at the Queens Museum in New York. It then moves to Los Angeles on Sept. 16, 2016, where the second part will debut at the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles.
The two-part exhibition, co-curated by the Queens Museum and the GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE, in collaboration with Ramones Productions Inc., will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the release of the Ramones’ 1976 self-titled debut album and will explore the lasting influence the punk rockers had on their hometown, from their start in Queens to their history-making performances at CBGB. The exhibit will highlight their musical achievements, and place a special influence on the dynamic synergy between New York City’s music and visual arts scenes in the 1970s and 1980s.
While the exhibition’s two parts will share many key objects drawn from more than 50 public and private collection across the world, each will explore the Ramones through a different lens: The Queens Museum iteration will begin with their roots in Queens and reveal their ascendancy in both music and visual culture, while the GRAMMY Museum version will contextualize the band in the larger pantheon of music history and pop culture.
The vision of Queens Museum guest curator Marc H. Miller and GRAMMY Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli, the exhibition will be organized under a sequence of themes — places, events, songs, and artists —and include materials by figures such as Arturo Vega (who, along with the Ramones, designed their famed Ramones logo), Sergio Aragones (cartoonist for Mad magazine), John Holmstrom (Punk magazine co-founder and cartoonist), Shepard Fairey, and Yoshitomo Nara (who, for this exhibit, has created a large-scale version of one of his famous paintings of his recurring character Ramona, whom he named in homage to the Ramones). Also included in the exhibit are contributions from the personal collections of Mickey Leigh (Joey Ramone’s brother and Ramones’ original stage manager) and Linda Ramone (Johnny Ramone’s wife), as well as works from well-known rock photographers such as Roberta Bayley (who shot the first Ramones album cover) Bob Gruen, and David Godlis, along with Danny Fields (Ramones’ first manager), Monte A. Melnick (Ramones’ tour manager), and others who were intimately involved with the group throughout their career. Additional artifacts will also include personal memorabilia such as clothing and instruments.
“The Ramones represent a resistance to the status quo and so many of the artists who they influenced, and who they were influenced by, embody that same ideal,” said Laura Raicovich, President and Executive Director of the Queens Museum. “As an institution, we are thrilled to explore the nexus of art and the Ramones, from their roots in Queens to the international diaspora of punk.”
In the “post-pop” world of New York City in the 1970s and 1980s, music was largely looming with a new generation of artists taking up residency in the area’s lofts and tenements. Many formed or joined bands, while others, finding inspiration in Andy Warhol’s work with the Velvet Underground and the psychedelic posters and comic art in San Francisco, connected to music via commercial art and fine art formats. As central figures at New York’s CBGB, the Ramones served as both subject and inspiration for many visual artists, resulting in a large body of works, many of which will be featured in this exhibition.
“The Ramones not only set a precedent for a new sound that influenced generations of musicians, they became synonymous with a lifestyle that inspired fans to be different,” said Bob Santelli, Executive Director of the GRAMMY Museum. “We are so excited to tell the story of these four punk rockers from Queens in a way that has never been done before.”
“This is so amazing, the best RAMONES collection ever,” said Linda Ramone, Johnny Ramone’s wife. “Gonna be a real cool time, fun for all! Gabba Gabba Hey!”
“The Ramones were the best band ever, because they actually invented something,” said Bono, of GRAMMY winners U2. “They talked like they walked like they sounded onstage. Everything added up. Watching them live and hearing Joey sing, I realized that there was nothing else that mattered to him … and pretty soon nothing else mattered to me.”
“Many aspects of culture changed as a result of the genre of music, attitude, and style the Ramones established 40 years ago, and “art” is certainly among those aspects,” said Mickey Leigh. “That the Ramones’ effect on our lives is being acknowledged, to the extent of a museum exhibit dedicated solely to them, is extremely meaningful. There will now exist an exhibit, representative of that contribution, which solidifies a link in the chain of our sociological history, and will be beneficial to current and future generations who want to learn about it.”
Read the announcement in the New York Times.
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