Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars to Open at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

First major exhibition of Reed's archival materials will highlight the artist's collaborations

March 15, 2022—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 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 andArup, 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.

"This magnificent exhibition draws from the archive—a panoramic picture of Lou’s music, pictures, friendships, writing, tai chi and performances as well as a recreation of the scenes and cities he worked in and loved," said Laurie Anderson. "What better place to have this than in the heart of the city he loved the best? My dream has been to make Lou’s work completely accessible to the public. The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has made this possible."

"Ever since the Library for the Performing Arts acquired Lou Reed's archives, we've been eager to host a major exhibition that showcases the treasures it contains," said Jennifer Schantz, Barbara G. and Lawrence A. Fleischman Executive Director of the Library for the Performing Arts. "Caught Between the Twisted Stars will give the public an opportunity to see just how vast and rich Lou Reed's collection is, and give us all an opportunity to celebrate this music icon's 80th birthday in our first full-scale exhibition since the start of the pandemic." 

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

June 9, 2022 - March 4, 2023

Donald and Mary Oenslager Gallery

June 9, 2022 - January 7, 2023

Lou Reed Listening Room in the Vincent Astor Gallery

Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Starsis made possible by the generosity of Clifford Ross, Kenneth and Anna Zankel, and an anonymous donor.

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts gratefully acknowledges the leadership support of Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman. Additional support for exhibitions has been provided by Judy R. and Alfred A. Rosenberg and the Miriam and Harold Steinberg Foundation. 

Press Contact: Alex Teplitzky at alexteplitzky@nypl.org

About The New York Public Library For The Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center

The Library for the Performing Arts is dedicated to enhancing access to its rich archives of dance, theatre, music, and recorded sound—to amplify all voices and support the creative process. As one of The New York Public Library’s renowned research centers—and one of the world’s largest collections solely focused on the performing arts—our mission is to amplify all voices and all of our holdings. At present, the collection at the Library for the Performing Arts includes upwards of 8 million items, notable for their extraordinary range and diversity—from 11th-century music, to 20th-century manuscripts to contemporary hip-hop dance.