For over five decades, the Rolling Stones have continually reinvented themselves as musicians, performers and cultural icons, transforming music, art, fashion and popular culture in the process. This incredible legacy is explored in Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones, a major exhibition opening this week at London’s Saatchi Gallery. Pentagram’s Abbott Miller and William Russell have collaborated on the design of the exhibition, which is produced by Tony Cochrane and Thea Jeanes-Cochrane of iEC and curated by Ileen Gallagher.
The exhibition is the most comprehensive and immersive insight to date into the career of the legendary group that has been called “The Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band.” Pentagram worked closely with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood and Charlie Watts (whose first job was working as a graphic designer for Bob Gill, one of Pentagram’s founding partners). Synthesizing environments, objects, media and sound, Miller and Russell have designed a dramatic experience that captures the revolutionary spirit of the Stones. Exhibitionism is the largest touring experience of this kind to be staged by a band or artist, and continues the band’s tradition of groundbreaking innovation combined with superior production values.
Comprising 20,000 square feet, on two floors of the Saatchi Gallery, the exhibition presents an engaging narrative journey through the band’s 50-year career, told through a series of thematic installations. Visitors are immersed in the band’s story through visceral experiences that include, among others, a recreation of their infamous first apartment on Edith Grove in Chelsea; a gallery that gives insight into the recording process, highlighting the studio environments where the Stones have worked and inviting guests to experiment with the band’s back catalogue; and a gallery that delivers a sense of the band’s incredible stage presence.
The exhibition embraces all aspects of art and design, sound, film, video, fashion and performance, encompassing more than 500 important and original artifacts from the band’s personal archives. Items from all phases of the band’s career are highlighted, including rare guitars and instruments, iconic costumes, rare audio tracks and unseen video clips; personal diaries and correspondence; original posters and album cover artwork; stage and set designs; and sequences from films and videos. The Stones tell their own story through their quotes and voices, offering an intimate narrative in unique audio and video sources produced for the show.
Over the years, the Stones have worked with many musicians, producers, stage designers, clothing designers, filmmakers and other creative collaborators to realize their vision. This tradition continued with the exhibition, which in addition to Pentagram, Gallagher and the producers brought together the video and production designers FRAY studio (Finn Ross and Adam Young); the longstanding Rolling Stones lighting designer Patrick Woodroffe, his partner Adam Bassett and their team at Woodroffe Bassett Studio; the milliner Stephen Jones, who created unique head pieces for the mannequins; the filmmakers Sam Pattinson and Paul Dugdale and their teams; and Robin Brown and the scenic team at Paragon for the recreation of Edith Grove.
Miller and his team have also designed Exhibitionism: The Rolling Stones, the book that accompanies the exhibition.