“Richie Havens, Woodstock Festival, Bethel, NY, 1969” by Elliott Landy
To commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969, The Center for Photography at Woodstock in Woodstock, New York, is exhibiting “Elliott Landy: The Spirit of a Generation” (now extended through October 20, 2019), featuring Elliott Landy and his seminal photographs from the festival. The official photographer of the festival, Landy documented the spirit of music, freedom and abandon that permeated the festival.
The exhibition was guest curated by Charles Guice. In addition to featuring Landy’s iconic photographs from the festival, the exhibition also showcases the political climate of the 1960s with photographs contrasting nationwide demonstrations for peace and abortion rights with the bucolic setting of musicians like Bob Dylan and The Band, who had come to live in Woodstock.
The festival, which swelled from the anticipated 50,000 attendees to a record-setting 450,000, took place in Bethel, New York, on August 15-18, 1969 and drew iconic performers such as Joan Baez, Richie Havens, the Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and The Band. Shooting 76 rolls of film, Landy captured the festival from the empty fields as the stage was being built to the unforgettable cultural spectacle that after 50 years still remains unmatched in its societal resonance and impact.
Best known for his iconic rock photographs from the 1960s, Elliott Landy was one of the first music photographers to be recognized as an “artist.” His work has included portraits and album covers of Bob Dylan (“Nashville Skyline”), The Band (“Music From Big Pink” and “The Band”), Janis Joplin (“Big Brother & The Holding Company” and “Cheap Thrills”), Van Morrison (“Moondance”), as well as celebrated images of Joan Baez, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Richie Havens and many other legendary bands, singers and musicians. Landy’s photographs of Dylan and The Band during the years they resided and recorded in Woodstock, as well as his coverage of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival captured the attention of a new culture seeking spiritual and artistic freedom. Fifty years later, Landy’s seminal images have become synonymous with the town, the famed festival and the utopian spirit of the Woodstock generation.