|Bobby Grossman had the foresight to bring his camera to CBGB and to start shooting photos that chronicle those intense and important early days. —Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth
New York, 10 March 2022— Howl! Arts/Howl! Archive (HA/HA) is pleased to present Low Fidelity, a selection of photographs by Bobby Grossman that documents and sheds new light on icons of New York’s punk-rock scene and the culture that bred other trailblazing artists and musicians of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. HA/HA is located at 250 Bowery.
Grossman arrived in New York in 1976 after receiving a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he studied alongside friends Chris Frantz and David Byrne of Talking Heads. His first job was assisting Richard Bernstein, the artist responsible for the covers of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine. At Bernstein’s studio in the legendary Chelsea Hotel, Grossman found himself at ground zero in the early days of punk and the downtown scene.
Taking photographs of friends and newfound acquaintances—including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Debbie Harry, the Ramones, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and the milieu around Andy Warhol’s Factory—Grossman became a regular fixture at CBGB, the Mudd Club, and other downtown haunts.
Grossman also served as the official photographer for Glenn O’Brien’s TV Party, the seminal weekly public-access television show that David Letterman once described as “…the greatest TV show anywhere, ever!” TV Party ran from 1978–1982 and captured the countless artists and innovators on the scene including Blondie, George Clinton, Basquiat, “Fab 5 Freddy” Brathwaite, and Klaus Nomi.
Bobby was one of the first serious photographers to capture me in action back then, and each image brings back valuable memories of a time when we did successfully change and subvert the direction of pop culture. —“Fab 5 Freddy” Brathwaite
Grossman’s work was included in the groundbreaking 1981 exhibition, New York/New Wave, at P.S.1 alongside more than a hundred artists including Kenny Scharf, Robert Mapplethorpe, Keith Haring, Brian Eno, and Nan Goldin. Grossman’s work has appeared in numerous publications and documentaries, though the majority of his archive has remained unseen until now.
The exhibition includes photos of Andy Warhol, Talking Heads, Blondie, the Ramones, Lou Reed, David Bowie, The B-52’s, Iggy Pop, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Diego Cortez, Cookie Mueller, John Waters, Jackie Curtis, Anya Phillips, Lester Bangs, Nile Rogers, Robert Fripp, Anya Phillips, Richard Hell, Grace Jones, Glenn O’Brien, William Burroughs, and countless other cultural icons from the period.
Bobby, above all an empathetic person, has the ability to contribute to his subject’s freedom in front of the lens. —Debbie Harry
The exhibition also marks the start of a Kickstarter campaign to republish Low Fidelity, the book that captures personal, firsthand accounts by personalities including Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, Clem Burke, “Fab 5 Freddy” Brathwaite, Richard Boch, Walter Steding, Sylvia Reed, Godlis, Vincent Fremont, Duncan Hannah, Victor Bockris, Tina Weymouth, Chris Frantz, Lisa Jane Persky, Robert Fripp, Lenny Kaye, Amos Poe, Suzanne Mallouk, Meg Griffin, Jamie Nares, Max Blagg, Kate Simon, Ed Stasium, Robyn Geddes, Guy Furrow, Julia Gorton, Hal and Randy Ludacer, Claudia Summers, Chocomoo, and Punk magazine publisher John Holmstrom. With a preface by Lisa Jane Persky, introduction by Glenn O’Brien, and afterword by Richard Boch.