More from year 2023
Jan 25, 2023
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December 5, 2023 - April 7, 2024
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The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) is an art gallery located in London, dedicated to housing a remarkable collection of portraits featuring historically significant and famous British individuals. The gallery underwent a substantial refurbishment program, resulting in its closure from 2020 to 2023. By late May 2020, some galleries had already closed, with a complete shutdown by July 2020. Finally, on June 22, 2023, the gallery reopened its doors to the public.
Coinciding with the reopening, a temporary exhibition titled “Eyes of The Storm” was unveiled on June 28. This exhibition showcased a collection of photographs captured by Paul McCartney himself during the period spanning December 1963 to February 1964, coinciding with the emergence of Beatlemania. Those photographs were also published in the photography book “1964: Eyes Of The Storm”, released the same month.
Ahead of the opening, Paul McCartney participated in several interviews, recorded at The National Portrait Gallery. On June 12, an exclusive interview with Lauren Laverne was broadcast on BBC1, followed by another interview airing on BBC Radio 4 on June 13. Additionally, a short TV interview was televised on CBS Sunday Morning on June 18.
On June 20, Her Royal Highness, Kate Middleton, the Princess of Wales, visited the National Portrait Gallery, ahead of its official reopening. During her visit, she met with Paul McCartney and his wife Nancy, engaging in a discussion centered around his highly anticipated upcoming exhibition.
An unprecedented exhibition, revealing – for the first time – extraordinary photographs taken by Paul McCartney.
In this show, we focus on portraits captured by McCartney, using his own camera, between December 1963 and February 1964 – a time when The Beatles were transitioning from a British sensation to a global phenomenon. These never-before-seen images offer a uniquely personal perspective on what it was like to be a ‘Beatle’ at the start of ‘Beatlemania’ – and adjusting from playing gigs on Liverpool stages, to performing to 73 million Americans on The Ed Sullivan Show. At a time when so many camera lenses were on the band, it is Paul McCartney’s which tells the truest story of a band creating cultural history – in one of its most exciting chapters.
Paul McCartney, Photographs 1963–64: Eyes of the Storm is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
From The Guardian, January 25, 2023:
The Beatles star approached the NPG in 2020, said [Nicholas Cullinan, the NPG’s director]. “He said he’d found these photographs that he remembers taking but thought had been lost. We sat down with him and began going through them. [It was] extraordinary to see these images – which are unseen – of such a well-documented, famous and important cultural moment.
They’re taken by someone who was really, as the exhibition title alludes, in the eye of the storm looking outside at what was happening.”
Paul McCartney got in touch and said that he was working on a book on Linda McCartney, his former wife, who was a great photographer. And in going through the archive, he found a thousand photographs that he’d taken, which he thought had all been lost, of the early days of The Beatles. And he basically said, like, would you like to have a look? And do you think this could be interesting? Like, yes.Nick Cullinan, director National Portrait Gallery – From New Beatles exhibition opens in London – YouTube
So the photographs in the exhibition cover just a three month period. So from November 1963 through to February 1964 which, although that seems like a very short period of time, everything changes for The Beatles. And people have also talked about how everything changes sort of culturally. […]
So we have the kind of British scene and the photographs really reflect that kind of post-war period in Britain. Then they go to Paris and the photographs taken in Paris where they’re doing a residency at the Olympia theater are quite different. They’re on the street. Some of them are quite tourist photographs of sort of Parisian street scenes, but also photographs of the other Beatles kind of hanging out. And they look really moody and cool. […]
And then the photographs, they show them going to America, and that’s when they performed on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ to an audience of 73 million people, which was an unprecedented TV audience. And sort of after that moment, everything changes. And the photographs kind of show the sort of joy and kind of extraordinary reaction that people had to The Beatles when they went to America. […]
Yeah, they are, particularly the ones where they’re arriving or departing from an airport where there’s thousands of people, you know. 7,000 people waited for them at Miami Airport when they arrived. And yeah, it’s insane. And actually, the more you look at those photographs, the more details that you see of how crazy it was, there’s a woman carrying a chimpanzee and then people sort of almost falling off the balcony. But this is what Paul McCartney was taking when he’s standing at the top of the steps as they kind of descend from an airplane.Rosie Broadley, curator at National Portrait Gallery – From New Beatles exhibition opens in London – YouTube
Last updated on October 15, 2023