Fifty years of The Rolling Stones captured at Saatchi Gallery

IMG_6046With a legacy lasting over half of a century, The Rolling Stones are considered one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time. With five decades of groundbreaking music, artwork, fashion, and more, even just talking about The Stones’ collection is extraordinary in itself. But going behind the scenes, seeing actual instruments, clothing, album art, and more from the personal archives of The Stones’ members is a whole other level of extraordinary. The Rolling Stones Exhibitionism at the Saatchi Gallery takes visitors through a marvelous journey from the band’s start at Edith Grove to the biggest stages worldwide, as if you are with them every step of the way.

What makes Exhibitionism so astonishing is its ability to capture every crucial detail of the building of The Stones’ legacy. Divided into nine different sections, the exhibition begins with a short film covering The Stones throughout their career. The video is able to cover their career in a mere five minutes, but is only a taste for the hundreds of items packed into the rest of the exhibition which made every moment from the video possible. From original hand written notes in Keith Richard’s diary, to flamboyant outfits worn on stage by Mick Jagger, the exhibition satisfyingly overwhelms the audience with every random piece of Stones history you can imagine.

After the video covering The Stones career, the exhibition leads to a replica of Edith Grove, where The Stones members lived in the early 60s as their career began. The replica of the one bedroom flat is oddly fascinating, as it shows a human side of the famous rock stars, and the pigsty flat, with dishes piled high in the sink, is a fulfilling reminder of their similarity to the standard adult which is more than often tangled up and forgotten in the glamorous image of an icon.

Leading to the last room on the ground floor, multiple guitars, basses, drum kits, and even amplifiers owned by the members of The Stones are on display for audiences to gaze and wonder at. Original legal documents and contracts dating back to the early 60s send the audience fifty years back in time to when The Stones were signing to their first record label and beginning a new legacy. Among the busy crowds hunched over the display cases, the room, amply titled “Recording” also contains a replica recording studio, and multiple tablets for audience use, where you can mix different Stones songs, and play around with vocal and instrumental levels as if you were the engineer.

The floor above begins with The Rolling Stones’ career in film and video, and a short film featuring director Martin Scorsese goes over the multiple concert videos The Stones took part in among the years. Halfway through the Exhibtionism experience, it could seem as if a peak has been reached, but the following four rooms outdo every one before. One of the most significant aspects of the exhibition is how each room is able to outdo the next, but they all have their own importance and amusement, making it hard to determine which one was the best.

Following the film, Exhibitonism covers the art and design of practically every Rolling Stones album cover, as well as the inspiration and evolution of the iconic tongue logo. With enormous blown up images, and walls covered in different patterns and colors, this room is very pleasing to the eye, and offers a nice change from the information packed rooms before it. The room is also interesting, as it explores the history behind the controversial artwork produced by The Stones, and offers insight into the images that made their mark alongside the music. This room is a unique look into The Stones, and is definitely one of the most notable stops in the exhibition.

The next room is possibly the most jaw dropping, as it is dedicated to the exuberant outfits sported by The Stones members, most specifically Mick Jagger. Redefining men’s fashion, Mick Jagger’s outfits ranged from tight striped pants, to gold zebra print jackets, and his ability to cross men’s and women’s clothing made him a style icon as well as a rock star. With voice overs from the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, the room offers an exciting, close-up look at the mix and matched clothing that became so iconic.

The final room that the audience can walk through is compelling to say the least, as its title “Rare and Unseen” grasps the range of odd items from the career of The Stones. From intricate 3D modeled stage designs for numerous concerts, to Mick Jagger’s personal make up chair, the room is a humorous, yet intriguing finish to the exploration of The Stones in all their glory.

Finishing off the wonderful exhibit is a 3D performance of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, which leaves the audience humming the tune as they leave the Saatchi gallery with a whole new view of the infamous band. Detailing every aspect of The Stones’ legendary career, and breaking down the nine most engaging and important pieces to the puzzle, Exhibitionism at The Saatchi Gallery is a must see, not just for fans of The Rolling Stones, but for anyone seeking an experience that leaves you speechless, amazed, and dying to go back.

About John Towfighi ('20)

Arts Editor

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