In the Rollicking 1970s, Artists Rubbed Elbows With Wall Street Execs at Studio 54. A New Show Celebrates Its History—See Images Here

While museums are closed to the public, we are spotlighting an inspiring exhibition somewhere around the globe each day.

Rose Hartman, Steve Rubell, Giorgio de Saint'Angelo, and guest, Studio 54, 1978. Courtesy of the artist. © Rose Hartman.
Rose Hartman, Steve Rubell, Giorgio de Saint'Angelo, and guest, Studio 54, 1978. Courtesy of the artist. © Rose Hartman.

While museums around the globe are closed to the public, we are spotlighting each day an inspiring exhibition that was previously on view. Even if you can’t see it in person, allow us to give you a virtual look. 

 

Studio 54: Night Magic
Brooklyn Museum

What the museum says“‘Studio 54: Night Magic’ traces the radiant history, social politics, and trailblazing aesthetics of the most iconic nightclub of all time. Behind the velvet rope, partygoers of all backgrounds and lifestyles could come together for nights of music, dazzling lights, and the popular song and dance ‘the Hustle.’

Organized chronologically, ‘Studio 54: Night Magic’ uses photography, fashion, drawing, and film, as well as never-before-exhibited costume illustrations, set proposals, and designs, to place the nightclub within the wider history of New York, from Prohibition through the 1970s. Blueprints and architecture models illustrate the club’s innovative development and creation, while documentation of extravagant theme parties traces its 33-month run. The exhibition continues through the years after the nightclub’s closure, showing the ongoing influence of Studio 54 aesthetics.”

Why it’s worth a look: Studio 54 looms large in the collective memory of America, and this show fills out a fuller history of its meaning, beyond all the frivolity and hedonism. In the wake of the horrors of the Vietnam War, as social mores were swiftly changing and people rallied for racial and sexual equality and freedom, Studio 54 became not only a place to party, but also, curiously, a political battleground.

It was a club where outsiders could mingle with pinstripe suit-wearing executives from Wall Street, and where drags queens would rub elbows with celebrities. One of the most compelling images from the show even depicts Bianca Jagger astride a white horse.

What it looks like:

Installation view, "Studio 54: Night Magic," Brooklyn Museum, 2020. (Photo: Jonathan Dorado).

Installation view, “Studio 54: Night Magic,” Brooklyn Museum, 2020. (Photo: Jonathan Dorado).

Adam Scull, Brooke Shields and Mariel Hemingway, 1977. Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Adam Scull/PHOTOlink.net. © Adam Scull.

Installation view, "Studio 54: Night Magic," Brooklyn Museum, 2020. (Photo: Jonathan Dorado).

Installation view, “Studio 54: Night Magic,” Brooklyn Museum, 2020. (Photo: Jonathan Dorado).

Installation view, "Studio 54: Night Magic," Brooklyn Museum, 2020. (Photo: Jonathan Dorado).

Installation view, “Studio 54: Night Magic,” Brooklyn Museum, 2020. (Photo: Jonathan Dorado).

Installation view, "Studio 54: Night Magic," Brooklyn Museum, 2020. (Photo: Jonathan Dorado).

Installation view, “Studio 54: Night Magic,” Brooklyn Museum, 2020. (Photo: Jonathan Dorado).

Juan Ramos, Alvin Ailey performance, opening night of Studio 54, April 26, 1977. Courtesy of Paul and Devon Caranicas. © The Estate and Archive of Antonio Lopez and Juan Ramos.

Installation view, “Studio 54: Night Magic,” Brooklyn Museum, 2020. (Photo: Jonathan Dorado).

Installation view, "Studio 54: Night Magic," Brooklyn Museum, 2020. (Photo: Jonathan Dorado).

Installation view, “Studio 54: Night Magic,” Brooklyn Museum, 2020. (Photo: Jonathan Dorado).

Installation view, Studio 54: Night Magic, Brooklyn Museum, March 13, 2020-July 5, 2020. (Photo: Jonathan Dorado)

Rose Hartman, Bethann Hardison, Daniela Morera, and Stephen Burrows at Studio 54, 1978. Courtesy of the artist. © Rose Hartman.

Installation view, “Studio 54: Night Magic,” Brooklyn Museum, 2020. (Photo: Jonathan Dorado).

Rose Hartman (American, born 1937). R. Couri Hay and Zandra Rhodes, Studio 54, 1977. Courtesy of the artist. © Rose Hartman.


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