Exhibitions Past

Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967


Adam Pendleton, Sympathy for the Devil, 2006–07, Acrylic on canvas, 90 parts, each: approx. 30 x 23 5/16 in. (76.2 x 59.2 cm), Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, restricted gift of Sanfred and Nancy Koltun in honor of the MCA’s 40th anniversary; originally commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago with generous assistance from Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, and Yvon Lambert Gallery, New York, 2007.19.a–llll Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago © MCA Chicago

Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967 is the most serious and comprehensive look at the intimate and inspired relationship between the visual arts and rock-and-roll culture to date, charting their intersection through works of art, album covers, music videos, and other materials. The exhibition addresses the importance of specific cities such as London, New York, Los Angeles, and Cologne, Germany; rock-and-roll’s style, celebrity, and identity politics in art; the experience, energy, and sense of devotion rock music inspires; and the dual role that many individuals play in both the sonic and visual realms.

Since the late 1950s, rock and roll has undeniably impacted society while also drastically changing with the times. Artists from the sixties to the present have maintained a strong connection to rock, beginning with Andy Warhol’s involvement with The Velvet Underground (which released its Warhol-produced landmark album The Velvet Underground & Nico in 1967—the same year the MCA opened its doors). Many notable rock musicians including Bryan Ferry, John Lennon, and Peter Townshend attended art schools, and more recently, artists such as Slater Bradley, Mike Kelley, and Raymond Pettibon have created album covers and music videos that transcend both art and music genres.

This exhibition is organized by Curator Dominic Molon.