VG&M – Astrid Kirchherr – A retrospective

astrid-100Astrid Kirchherr – A retrospective
25 August – 29 January 2011
Astrid Kirchherr
is best known for her photographs of the Beatles during the early Hamburg days and for her association with the Beatles’ original bass player, Stuart Sutcliffe.
Astrid was the first person to take studio shots of the Beatles and her photographs capture the innocence and ambition of the Beatles as they took their formative steps to stardom, when Pete Best was the drummer and Stuart Sutcliffe the bass player. Astrid’s later work would go on to show the Beatles when their fame had escalated and they were to leave Liverpool behind.
This exhibition is a rare opportunity to view a remarkable collection of photographs that capture a seminal moment in popular culture and in Liverpool’s history. It features over 70 images covering her career from 1960 until she ultimately abandoned photography in 1967.

The curators of this exhibition were allowed unparalled access to Astrid’s substantial photographic archives. The exhibition contains a wide range of images from the early days when Astrid first met the Beatles in Hamburg and her involvement photographing Hard Day’s Night in 1964 for STERN magazine which brought her back to Liverpool.

For the avid Beatle fan there are some previously unpublished images of the Beatles, some well-known images of the Beatles in their original format and some rare images of the Beatles holidaying in Tenerife. It also includes portraits of key individuals from the period, including Rory Storm, Gibson Kemp and Klaus Voorman.

However, this exhibition is not just about the Beatles. There are shots of the Cavern which capture the energy and excitement that the Beatles created and distil the essence of Liverpool in the wake of the Beatles. In addition, Astrid’s shots of war-damaged Liverpool provide stark contrast to the buzz and excitement of the youth movement.

In 1960 Kirchherr was an innovative photographer whose chance meeting with the Beatles in Hamburg had a significant impact. She became engaged to Stuart Sutcliffe, the original bass player with the Beatles, who tragically died in 1961 of a brain haemorrhage. Ultimately, the suffocating intensity of media interest in the Beatles and the relentless association of her work with them led to Astrid abandoning photography.

This exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated exhibition catalogue, published by Liverpool University Press, featuring essays by Michael Bracewell, Matthew Clough and Jon Savage. It also contains a series of in-depth interviews with Astrid, Gibson Kemp, Ulf Krüger and Klaus Voorman by Colin Fallows.

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