Fifty years after the Beatles broke up and nearly 44 years since the murder of John Lennon, the band and all it stood for continues to be an object of fascination for millions.
That passion, which sometimes borders on obsession, is the fuel behind “Paul McCartney Photographs 1963–64: Eyes of the Storm,” a new exhibit set to debut at the Brooklyn Museum on May 3 and run through August 18.
John Lennon in Paris, 1964 (Photo by Paul McCartney)
Museum goers will get to look through over 250 photos taken by McCartney throughout the Beatles’ earliest years, between 1963 and 1964.
Also on view will be film clips from the same time period, including tapings of the Fab Four’s infamous appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and their much talked about first American press conference at JFK Airport, plus memorabilia pieces like Beatles buttons and a special photo film created by McCartney himself.
“This exhibition gives an insider’s view of the Beatles,” says Catherine Futter, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Curator of Decorative Arts at the Brooklyn Museum. “The Beatles, especially in this early period, captured the youth movement of the early ‘60s, which was in such contrast to the traumas and deprivations of World War II. Their youth, exuberance, cheekiness, and openness appeals today as much as in 1963.”
George Harrison. Miami Beach, February 1964 (Photo by Paul McCartney)
Less silly and more significant, she points out, the foursome also embraced the burgeoning Civil Rights movement (and were embraced in return) by including language in the contract for their American tour that they would not play to segregated audiences.
The exhibition, which will make its debut at the National Portrait Gallery in London before making its way to the United States, has been a long time coming.
Futter reveals that, back in 2020, while preparing for a show focusing on his late wife Linda McCartney’s photographs, Macca told curator Sarah Brown that he had snapped pictures of the “early period of the Beatles’ ride to stardom.”
Ringo Starr. London, 1963. (Photo by Paul McCartney)
Fast-forward a few years and McCartney was able to locate the original contact sheets and make his selections for what eventually became “Eyes of the Storm.”
The upcoming show also continues on the path of the sorts of productions that Brooklyn Museum has been mounting in recent years: celebrity-adjacent and dissecting momentous changes that impacted the culture at large.
Currently on display through February 11 is “Spike Lee: Creative Sources,” a showcase of more than 450 artworks, film props and cultural memorabilia from the auteur’s personal collection. Visitors who took in the “David Bowie Is” exhibit in 2018 will find this kind of not-necessarily-art pop worship familiar. Other recent popular shows include “Thierry Mugler: Couturissime,” which explored the life and impact of the designer; “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” and “Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech.”