Wednesday, March 11, 2020

STUDIO 54: NIGHT MAGIC at The Brooklyn Museum: Review By Polly Guerin


The first exhibition to trace the groundbreaking artistic achievements and social politics of the 
historic nightclub Studio 54 takes center stage in the NIGHT MAGIC: STUDIO 54 exhibition at The Brooklyn Museum through July 5, 2020.
With its lasting influence on nightclub design, cinema and fashion STUDIO 54 remains a nostalgic reminder of the revolutionary creativity, expressive freedom, and sexual liberation celebrated at the world-renowned nightclub. You can be there vicariously viewing over 650 objects ranging from fashion photography, drawings, and film to stage sets and music. Behind the velvet rope, partygoers of all backgrounds and lifestyles could come together for radiant nights of music, dazzling lights, and the popular song and dance, "The Hustle."  Image: Bianca Jagger riding a white horse at Studio 54. Photographer Rose Hartman. 
        LOCATION/LOCATION: Set in a former opera house in Midtown Manhattan, with the stage innovatively re-envisioned as a dance floor, Studio 54 became a space of sexual, gender, and creative liberation, where every patron could feel like a star.
     Studio 54's cutting edge décor and state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems set it apart from other nightclubs of the time, attracting artists, fashion designers, musicians, celebrities whose visits were vividly chronicled by notable photographers.     
The Brooklyn Museum presentation which takes cues from Studio 54's famed interior design, presents the nearly 650 objects drawn from both the Museum's collection and Studio 54 cofounder Ian Schager's personal collection. Featuring fashion photography, film, original blueprints, music and never-before-exhibited costume illustrations, set proposals, and designs, STUDIO 54: NIGHT MAGIC documents the 33 months that the club was open, and the talented stage and lighting designs, DJs, artists, fashion designers, and who brought the iconic showplace to life. Image: A party reveler in costume.
       Although it was open for only three years---April 26, 1977 to February 2, 1980---Studio 54 was arguably the most iconic nightclub to emerge in the twentieth century. Set in a former opera house in Midtown Manhattan with the stage innovatively re-envisioned as a dance floor, Studio 54 became a space to be seen and to mingle among the multiple personalities of stage, screen and celebrity. STUDIO 54 has come to represent the visual height of disco-era America: glamorous people in glamorous fashions, surrounding by gleaming lights and glitter dancing the night into dawn away in a magical night. 
       STUDIO 54 was founded in 1977 by Brooklyn-born entrepreneurs Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell, who met while students at Syracuse University. They had dreams of opening of opening a nightclub in in the center of New York City, where roller-skating rings, Black and Latinx dance culture, and gary underground were gaining popularity.       
From the moment STUDIO 54 opened, its cutting-edge décor and state-of-the-art sound system and lights set it apart from other clubs at the time, attracting the fashion intelligentsia, musicians and celebrities to bask in its limelight. Celebrities including Andy Jackson, Bianca Jagger, Cher, Elizabeth Taylor, Farrah Fawcett, Liza Minelli, Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, Truman Capote. Singers Grace Jones, Diana Ross, and Donna Summer all performed at Studio 54.  Fashion designers Stephen Burrows, Diane von Furstenberg, Halston, Norma Kamali, KENZO, Calvin Klein,  Issey Myaki, Claude Montana, Zandra Rhodes, Yves Saint Laurent, Fernando Sanchez,  and Georgio
Sant'Angelo were frequently present. Image: Celebrity visitors: Jerry Hall, Andy Warhol, Debbie Harry, Truman Capote, and Paloma Picasso at Studio 54 in New York City. Photo: Getty Images.
      The design of th exhibition itself is inspired by SUDIO 54's original lighting and features innovative sets and audio elements that highlight the popular music and film of the era---including chart-topping songs like "Le Freak" famously written after the band Chic was denied entry to the nightclub's 1977 New Year's eve party, and "I Will Survive," Gloria Gaynor's B side that became an anthem after it was championed by Studio 54 DJ Richie Kaczor. STUDIO 54 IS A TIMED TICKET EXHIBIITON. The Brooklyn Museum, 290 Eastern Parkway. 718-638-5000. 8www.brooklynmuseum.org.
      Ta Ta Darlings! Let's wear some outrageous outfit and trip over to the Brooklyn Museum
where vicarious thrills of a bygone era will ignite STUDIO 54: NIGHT MAGIC once again.
Fan mail welcome email pollytalknyc@gmail.com 

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