Sunday, August 23, 2020

STUDIO 54 @ Brooklyn Museum

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Studio 54 Night Magic at the Brooklyn Museum / #Studio54bkm

Before COVID-19 effectively shut down NYC (and the world!), I walked though a rare snapshot-in-time at the press preview of the Brooklyn Museum's Studio 54: Night Magic (March 11th). While the exhibit has yet to open to the public, its 650+ objects--from logo sketches, to costumes worn, to photographs capturing once-in-a-ifetime moments, to paper invitations and tickets, to the actual liquor license for Studio 54--account for an era of revolution and cultural transformation. My post is long overdue, but better late than never! Keep reading for a peek inside the exhibit that captures the essence of the iconic night club that helped rebrand New York City.    

Halston dresses and Studio 54 atmosphere

Though only open a short 33 months, the famed Studio 54 leaves a rich legacy of dance, dazzle and debauchery. Borne from a TV studio in the old Gallo Opera House, Studio 54 kept much of the "studio" and adopted its name from the street it was located on."At the time of economic crisis, Studio 54 helped New York City to rebrand its image, and set the new gold standard for a dynamic night out," says curator Matthew Yokobosky, "What we wanted to do here was emphasize the visual dimension, the art, the photography, the fashion, the scenography that went into the creation of the storied nightclub." Uniquely curated, Studio 54: Night Magic showcases the influences, the history and the making of a magical place that Ian Schranger and Steve Rubell built--a reaction to an uncertain time where people of all races, genders and sexualities could go to have fun. 

Installation view

Studio 54: Night Magic is arranged chronologically and includes photos, fashions and artifacts from the beloved nightclub. A short 6 weeks and $400,000 transformed a TV studio space into a den of debauchery with kinetic lighting, an A-list celebrity attendance and where "it was a dictatorship on the door, but a democracy on the dance floor" (Andy Warhol). The sprawling exhibit captures the true essence of the club--from its conception to its patrons and the thought and detail behind its existence.
Sketches and costume by Antonio Lopez 

The Brooklyn Museum will reopen on September 12th with limited, timed tickets. Studio 54: Night Magic will be on view until November 8, 2020. Flaunting an expansive vision and well curated details, this is an exhibit worth taking the time to step through. Stop to read and soak in the significance of the documents and pause at the photographs of celebrities past (e.g. Michael Jackson with a fro!) and unforgettable moments (Bianca Jagger riding in on a white horse, 4 inches of glitter falling from the ceiling on New Year's Eve). As we emerge from a pandemic, transport yourself back to a night of a no-holds-barred partying and social gathering. 

Letter + contact sheets from Bill Cunningham 

Hand blown St. Tropez double old fashioned glass

Fashion and sketches from the heyday of Studio54

Steven Burrows dresses [R] modeled by Pat Cleveland in 1977

[L] Michael Jackson + Steve Rubell @ NYC Premiere Party for "The Turning Point" (Nov. 1977) / [R] Francesco Scavullo & Tina Turner (May 1978) 

Yves Saint Laurent sketches

Installation view 'Studio 54-A Style An Attitude'

Lights... Action....

Sea Shell top

Installation view - Dramatic cuts

Installation View; Photograph by Dustin Pittman entitled "Stroke of Midnight at Studio 54, 1978-79"

Installation view--Blue styles

Fantasy Costume by Gensis worn by Richie Gallo; recreation done by Geoffrey Mac

Photographs of good times past

Portrait wall

Lightning in a Bottle - Exhibit end

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