Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin, Tim Buckley, Paul Morrisey, ‘Max’s Kansas City’ © Elliott Landy at Proud Galleries London

Andy Warhol, Janis Joplin, Tim Buckley, Paul Morrisey, ‘Max’s Kansas City’

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© Elliott Landy
New York, U.S.A. 1968

Accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity

A giant disco ball, prickly with silver light, hung in the dark performance space of the Bowery Electric and in this brick-y basement it looked like Tinkerbell trapped in Shelob’s Lair.

The disco ball seemed also deliberately incongruous, as much so as the Beatles T-shirt worn by a darkly bearded fellow hunched over an illuminated console.

This was, after all, last week’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of Max’s Kansas City, an avatar of Punk, thus mortal enemies of Disco, and the darkly-themed crowd—not a fashionista or silver-painted naked paparazzo-magnet in sight—included such stalwarts as the performers Walter Steding, Joey Kelly, and a onetime Max’s waitress, the unalterable Debbie Harry, and also Yvonne, wife to the late founder of Max’s, Mickey Ruskin.

The back room was another world. That was the Warhol enclave. That was where you would see Warhol, Paul Morrissey, Ronnie Cutrone, Bridget Polk, such Warhol Superstars as Utraviolet and Viva, plus ambient glitterati.

There was no brawling there, and no heavy tippling, just uppers and downers to perk you up, to calm you down until the magic moment when somebody might holler “Show time!” And exhibitionism would become a competitive sport.

The separation between the front room at Max’s Kansas City embodied Warhol’s increasing alienation from the 'serious' art world because the bigger he became as a bold-face name in the media the more swiftly his reputation crumbled there.

Indeed Philip Leider, the founding editor of Artforum, told the New York Times he had resigned from the magazine because of what he called 'Warholism.' 'It turned out that Warhol didn’t care about art,' Leider said. 'He really was into what he called ‘glamour.’

Mickey Ruskin closed Max’s in December 1974. Uncanny timing, this.

As Tuchman observed to me, 'The closing exactly coincides with the emerging of what can best be described as the Art Market. Before there was never any talk about money. There was talk about reputation but not about success. All of this changed within a period of months. There was an explosion of art dealers, art galleries, pricing wars.' Pilar Melendez for the Daily Beast

Elliott Landy, born in 1942, began photographing the anti-Vietnam war movement and the underground music culture in NYC in 1967. His images of Bob Dylan and The Band, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and many others show the music scene during that time which culminated in the 1969 Woodstock Festival, of which he was the official photographer. He is also known for his work using kaleidoscopes and for his experimental still life of flowers. Landy’s work has been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide and published on the covers of major US and international magazines and newspapers including the New York Times, Life, Rolling Stone and the Saturday Evening Post. He is represented worldwide by Magnum Photos, Getty, and several other local photo agencies.

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The Daily Beast

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