New York Library for the Performing Arts Presents ‘Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars’

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center will mount Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars, the first large-scale exhibition from Reed’s archive. The exhibition will display the life and work of the icon whose profound influence—musically, visually, and culturally—still affects a range of artists and writers today.

This is the first large-scale exhibition of Lou Reed’s archive acquired by the Library for the Performing Arts in 2017. It happens June 9, 2022 – March 4, 2023 at the Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery, followed by June 9, 2022 – January 7, 2023 at the Lou Reed Listening Room in the Vincent Astor Gallery.

Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars, taken from a lyric from “Romeo Had Juliette” from Reed’s solo album, New York, will present previously unseen and unheard work of a prolific and uncompromising artist—songwriter, musician, performer, poet, photographer, and tai chi practitioner. The story is told through the voices, images, and music of Reed’s music projects; through his performances and theatre works; the articles, books, and poems that he authored; his own photography; and his personal tai chi studies.

The show will pay tribute to the many friends and collaborators whom he influenced and who, in turn, shaped his own music, including artists Julian Schnabel, Andy Warhol, and Robert Wilson; musicians Laurie Anderson, David Bowie, John Cale, Garland Jeffreys, Metallica, Sterling Morrison, Robert Quine, Mike Rathke, Fernando Saunders, and Maureen Tucker; manager Sylvia Reed; producer Hal Willner; photographers Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Billy Name, and Mick Rock; poets Jim Carroll, Allen Ginsberg, Delmore Schwartz, and Anne Waldman; former Czech Republic president Václav Havel; songwriter Doc Pomus; and tai chi Grandmaster Ren GuangYi.

The exhibition will showcase rare and never-before-displayed material from the Lou Reed Archive at the Library for the Performing Arts, spanning Reed’s creative life from his 1958 Freeport High School band, The Shades, to the Velvet Underground, to his solo albums and tours, to his final performances in 2013. Highlighting his life and work, the exhibition will feature audio and video of performances and interviews, photographers’ original prints and contact sheets, handwritten lyrics, personal correspondence, studio notes, album proofs, press, tour posters, and Reed’s personal record collections. A selection of Reed’s guitars will augment displays throughout the exhibition. Additional material in the exhibition will come from the newly acquired Salvatore Mercuri Velvet Underground Collection, also part of the Library for the Performing Arts’ collections.

The exhibition will offer visitors the opportunity to experience the full range of Reed’s technologically ambitious discography in the Lou Reed listening Room. This room will allow visitors to experience a range of Reed’s work in the original intended format including mono, stereo, quadraphonic and full ambisonic spatial audio with accompanying light and visual installation. Most notably, the room will enable Metal Machine Trio: The Creation of the Universe, a sound installation developed in 2012 by Reed and Arup, to be experienced in New York for the first time. The exhibition is curated by Don Fleming and Jason Stern. Fleming served as the archivist for the Lou Reed Archive, and Stern as Reed’s Technical Director and Archivist during the artist’s lifetime. The Lou Reed Listening Room and content design is led by Raj Patel at Arup. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts’ Music & Recorded Sound Division acquired Lou Reed’s archive in 2017.