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Lou Reed: Berlin
Photograph: Courtesy of the artistLou Reed: Berlin

The first large-scale Lou Reed exhibition is headed to NYC

Reed’s guitars and stage equipment will be on display among hundreds of other artifacts.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

The Library for the Performing Arts in Lincoln Center is taking a "walk on the wild side" with the first large-scale exhibition featuring previously unseen and unheard work from Lou Reed’s archive.

Opening on what would've been Reed's 80th birthday on June 9, 2022, "Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars" is a chance for fans to see how influential the musician was up close with never-before-displayed material across Reed’s creative life from his 1958 Freeport High School band, The Shades, to his final performances in 2013.

RECOMMENDED: A major museum survey of Warhol photography has opened in NYC

Audio and video of performances and interviews, photographers’ original prints and contact sheets, handwritten lyrics, personal correspondence, studio notes, album proofs, press, tour posters and Reed’s personal book and record collections and even a selection of Reed’s guitars and stage equipment will be on display from the Lou Reed Archive as well as the newly acquired Salvatore Mercuri Velvet Underground Collection.

"Caught Between the Twisted Stars," which is a lyric from "Romeo Had Juliette" from Reed's New York, will chronicle the life's work of "a prolific and uncompromising artist—songwriter, musician, performer, photographer, poet, accomplished tai chi practitioner—a story told through the voices, images, and music of Reed and his collaborators."

Collaborators being people like artists Julian Schnabel, Andy Warhol, and Robert Wilson; musicians Laurie Anderson, David Bowie, John Cale, Garland Jeffreys, Metallica, Sterling Morrison, Robert Quine, Mike Rathke, Fernando Saunders, and Maureen Tucker; manager Sylvia Reed; producer Hal Willner; photographers Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Billy Name, and Mick Rock; poets Jim Carroll, Allen Ginsberg, Delmore Schwartz, and Anne Waldman; president Václav Havel; songwriter Doc Pomus; and tai chi master Ren Guangyi.

Lou Reed exhibition
Photograph: Jonathan Blanc/The New York Public Library

If you weren't convinced yet that the exhibition will offer an exciting look at Reed's career, you will be now: Don Fleming and Jason Stern are curating it. Fleming served as the archivist for the Lou Reed Archive and Stern was Reed's technical director and archivist during Reed's lifetime. They knew the man personally.

"This magnificent exhibition draws from the archive—a panoramic picture of Lou’s music, pictures, friendships, writing, tai chi and performances as well as a recreation of the scenes and cities he worked in and loved," said musician Laurie Anderson. "What better place to have this than in the heart of the city he loved the best? My dream has been to make Lou’s work completely accessible to the public. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has made this possible."

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' Music & Recorded Sound Division acquired Lou Reed's archive in 2017.

"Ever since the Library for the Performing Arts acquired Lou Reed's archives, we've been eager to host a major exhibition that showcases the treasures it contains," said Jennifer Schantz, the Barbara G. and Lawrence A. Fleischman Executive Director of the Library for the Performing Arts. "'Caught Between the Twisted Stars' will give the public an opportunity to see just how vast and rich Lou Reed's collection is, and give us all an opportunity to celebrate this music icon's 80th birthday in our first full-scale exhibition since the start of the pandemic."

For those who want even more Lou Reed, Mick Rock's mock-up for Reed’s "Transformer" album will be on display at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in the new Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library's Treasures, which opens on September 24.

Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars will open March 2, 2022, in the Library for the Performing Arts's Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery. It will be on display through August 27, 2022.

Lou Reed exhibition
Photograph: Jonathan Blanc/The New York Public Library

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