A black and red photo of Lou Reed face, eyes closed, holding the neck of his guitar.

© Mick Rock 1972/2021

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.

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 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 New York Public Library for the Performing Arts' Music & Recorded Sound Division acquired Lou Reed's archive in 2017.

Lou Reed Listening Room

Photo of Metal Machine Music Trio performance

Photos by Amy-Beth McNeely of Metal Machine Music Trio.

June 9, 2022 – January 7, 2023
Vincent Astor Gallery

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. Most notably, the room will enable Metal Machine Trio: The Creation of the Universe, Lou Reed’s first and only sound art installation. Recorded live at New York’s Blender Theatre in 2009 with musicians John Zorn, Ulrich Krieger, and Sarth Calhoun, the gallery installation is composed of twelve loudspeakers in an ambisonic (or full sphere surround sound) arrangement to create a fully immersive 3-D sound environment. In collaboration with the acoustic specialists Arup in New York, Reed was able to recreate this groundbreaking composition for gallery visitors from exactly the same acoustic perspective he had while performing onstage. Other selections from Reed’s audio and video collections will also be featured daily in the gallery.

The Lou Reed Listening Room and content design is led by Raj Patel at Arup.

Celebrate Lou Reed With Us

Purple and blue lights shine on a man with long gray hair as he holds up a 78 vinyl record before a set of turntables.
Lenny Kaye spins doo-wop 78s from Lou Reed's collection

Coney Island Baby: DJ Set
In celebration of Lou Reed's 80th birthday on March 2, we partnered with the Lot Radio as Link Cromwell (aka guitarist Lenny Kaye) spun selections of doo-wop 45s from Lou Reed’s archive at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Check out the whole dj set! Listen

Performance Installation of The Drones
Wednesday, June 7 | 12-6 PM | Library for the Performing Arts

Inspired by musicians who experimented with sound through feedback loops, Lou Reed incorporated drones into The Velvet Underground songs like “Heroin.” On March 2 at 12:00pm, we pay tribute to the sound and inspiration of Lou Reed on what would have been his 80th birthday by hosting Lou Reed Drones, a performance installation by Stewart Hurwood of Lou Reed’s guitars and amps in feedback mode. Register

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Lou Reed Archive Now Available

Black background with white and gold text that says "Celebrating Lou Reed March 1942-2013."

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is thrilled to announce that the Lou Reed Archive has been processed and is now available to users. The Lou Reed Archive documents the history of Reed's life as a musician, composer, poet, writer, photographer, and tai-chi student through his own extensive papers, photographs, recordings and other materials. The archive spans Reed's creative life—from his 1958 Freeport High School band, the Shades, to his final performances in 2013.

Materials from the Lou Reed Archive are available onsite at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, located in Lincoln Center.

Listen Like Lou Playlist

As part of Lou Reed's archives, the Library for the Performing Arts also acquired his personal collection of LPs. His reflects the diversity of his interests, from the expected fellow punk-inspired artists like Elvis Costello and Iggy Pop, to opera, rap, and hip hop, to baroque instrumental suites and the Boston Pops orchestra. Because they are, by and large, commercial recordings, most can be found through your local branch or streaming service. We've compiled a Listen Like Lou playlist that reflects the LPs in his collection.

Lou Reed Oral History Collection: Garland Jeffreys Interview

Watch Laurie Anderson, Don Fleming, and Claire Jeffreys interview Garland Jeffrey. An interactive experience with an index and transcript is available. 

Lou Reed Reading List

The Library has created a book list dedicated to the great poet and musician in appreciation of his legacy. 

Support the Library for the Performing Arts

Our collections, programs, and resources are made freely available to New Yorkers thanks to contributions from supporters like you. Support the Library for the Performing Arts and the Lou Reed Archive by by making  a tax-deductible donation today

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