Extensive Lou Reed Exhibition Launched at the New York Public Library

It took seven years to prepare this exhibit

The first large-scale exhibit focusing on the life and work of Lou Reed, as the British daily Guardian calls him, “the indelible artist, writer, singer, guitarist, poet, and New York City native.”

Under the title, Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars the exhibition was launched in June 2022, and it took seven years for the curators to prepare this exhibit. Don Fleming, a musician and producer, who is a co-curator of the endeavor notes: “This is a person who always pushed boundaries. From the beginning to the end, he just never let up.”

“We have the demos that people can listen to from a tape he mailed to himself on May 11th, 1965 to copyright it,” explains co-curator Jason Stern who previously worked as Reed’s technical assistant as just one example of the exhibit’s treasures. “They were the earliest versions of the songs which would later become really big hits (like the 1967 seven-minute Velvet Underground classic ‘Heroin’). Every recording starts with ‘Words and music by Lou Reed.’” Another demo, meanwhile, served as the very first recording of his 1972 track “Perfect Day.” His then-wife Betty Kronstad is heard on vocals, while Reed accompanies her on the piano.

“We really tried to shine a light on the fact Lou was a multifaceted, multi-layered person,” says Stern. “There’s a lot of people who have a surface-level exposure to his work, whether only knowing the Velvet Underground or a couple of popular singles, but we wanted to focus on the multitudes.” That means including an entire section devoted to Reed’s poetry, a facet of his output he solely worked on in the early ’70s.

Lou Reed: Caught Between the Twisted Stars is on show at the New York Public Library until March 4, 2023.

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