They call themselves The Greatest Rock n’ Roll Band in the World, and a massive exhibit in London strongly argues they might be right.
The Saatchi Gallery is currently the epicenter for Exhibitionism, a comprehensive exploration of The Rolling Stones. From music to fashion to politics, the exhibit celebrates the group’s 50 year anniversary by exploring every aspect of the band’s influence.
Curated with the direct input of the band’s current and long-running members Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards, Exhibitionism takes up two full floors of the Saatchi. The exhibit fills nine galleries arranged by theme to study the band’s creation, development, achievements, and influence.
Of course, the galleries are filled with more than 500 genuine artifacts — including a gallery of guitars — from the band’s past, many contributed by the band members themselves.
The show took three years to plan and assemble with strong consideration given to interactive elements. Modern, high-tech museum exhibits must invite the visitors to inquire, touch and explore on their own. An extensive digital library allows fans to see and hear landmark and rare recordings of different Rolling Stones eras.
Artists from outside the music world have always rushed to contribute thoughts and designs to the world of The Stones, and Exhibitionism explores the input of Andy Warhol, Alexander McQueen, Tom Stoppard and Martin Scorsese.
The highlight of the exhibit for this reporter has to be the Edith Grove re-creation. During the band’s earliest period, the members lived in little more than a flophouse in a rough neighborhood not far from the Thames in southwest London. To celebrate those days of struggling, Jagger and Richards made sure the space was re-created in every disgusting details — including the smells of rotting garbage lingering in every corner.
The Exhibitionism exhibit runs until September, 2016 before packing up and heading out on a world tour with the first whistle stop in New York. Once on the road, the exhibit will become the largest and most comprehensive display of a rock band in history.