This Is How Stevie Nicks Invented the Selfie
Forget Kim Kardashian, the Fleetwood Mac frontwoman knew the art of selfies long before Instagram—and now, Nicks' personal collection of Polaroids from the '70s and '80s is on display
To coincide with the release of Stevie Nicks' album 24 Karat Gold and the reunited Fleetwood Mac touring, former Eurythmics frontman Dave Stewart and music gallerist Peter Blachley have mounted an exhibit of 24 of Nicks’ Polaroids from her personal collection.
“I guess you could say these were the original selfies,” says Blachley, founder of Morrison Hotel Gallery. “But it’s so much more because back then it was a bit different. It was still an analog system so you had to make sure the focus on photos was correct, and the angle was correct. There must have been so many outtakes to get a photo one liked.”
Blachley, who founded the gallery in 2001 with music retail industry professional Richard Horowitz and legendary music photographer Henry Diltz, curated the exhibit along with Stewart, who first worked with Morrison in 2007 (at its Bowery space) when he approached the gallery owner with some photography.
The Eurythmics musician had a number of photographs of iconic rock figures including Mick Jagger and Tom Perry. The Morrison Hotel Gallery mounted a successful exhibition of the photos and stayed in touch with Stewart afterward.
Stewart says, “Stevie had tons [of photos]! Boxes! Some were just pictures of whatever was happening at the time, but these are self-portraits.”
Stewart, who has known Nicks since 1983, produced two of her most recent albums and first saw the photographs, which were taken between 1975 and 1987, six months ago. He indicates that he knew instantly they would look “amazing” enlarged and told Nicks he would get them printed and brought to the gallery. After seeing some test prints, Nicks agreed to the exhibit.
Stewart and Blachley worked with Nash Editions, the digital printmaking company started by photographer Graham Nash in 1991, for the enlargement process. Nash Editions had been instrumental to the high quality of Stewart’s previous exhibit.
“Graham Nash is one of our photographers and he was a pioneer in this kind of digital scanning and printing. We've done some shows with recording artists and we evaluate and represent about 110 of the best photographers of music in the world so that’s quite a high standard. The Polaroid is a large negative but it’s actually a positive so you don’t lose anything blowing it up large because the resolution is already very high,” says Blachley. “The whole process was not digital, it was analog and a couple of these are as large as 60 x 70 and there’s no softness. The only digital part is when they did the super high resolution scanning.”
Nash Editions made very few corrections to the photographs in the exhibit besides making small spots of black a bit darker and cleaning up tiny imperfections, but otherwise the Polaroids of the show are presented as Nicks originally shot them. The musician art-directed each one using a wire with a shutter trigger button and chose the 24 in the exhibit.
The exhibit will be on display at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York (116 Prince St., 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10012; 212-941-8770), as well as its location in Los Angeles (1200 Alta Loma Rd., West Hollywood, CA 90069; 310-881-6025) through Oct. 31, after which Blachley indicates the gallery will still have selects available for view through the holiday season.
Photos courtesy of Syl Tang