Review: Chris Stein/Negative at Somerset House

Debbie Harry: “I wish I had invented sex – since everyone likes it, huge royalties”

I guess this sums up Somerset House‘s photographic exhibition Chris Stein/Negative: Me, Blondie and the Advent of Punk.

Chris has been taking pictures of fellow Blondie band members from their start in the mid 1970s, capturing the avant-garde and underground atmosphere in New York and even Andy Warhol’s Factory.

From intriguing tour bus shots with “celebrity mates” like Joan Jett, to more posed portraits with legends like David Bowie, Chris Stein has seen it all – and bears all the scars.

My personal highlights

A shot taken in 1977 in London Kings Road when Blondie were supporting Television (tickets £1.50-2.50!). Drummer Clem dressed as a mod standing next to Blondie’s promotional poster. On the wall: Judas Priest playing at Wilton Road’s New Victoria Theatre, a poster for Mike Oldfield’s new single William Tell Overture and Francesco Rosi’s film poster for Illustrious Corpses.

Another striking portrait from 1977 features Debbie Harry and Iggy Pop (looking remarkably like Anthony Kiedis).

Then there’s saucy Joan Jett in her Sunset Strip LA apartment with S&M paraphernalia looking like Noel Fielding.

Music journalist Lester Bangs, shot for Punk Magazine in New York in 1978. He inspired the journalist character in Almost Famous.

Finally, cheekbones to cheekbones: Debbie vs David Bowie vs Sting.

The promotional poster for the exhibition is a shot from the Picture This photoshoot – here’s the original video for the song.

You can also see the context of all these pictures in a great documentary by the BBC:

The exhibition ends on 25/1/15.

Picture credits: Paola Bassanese