Paul McCartney Photographs 1963–64: Eyes of the Storm Opens Today at the Brooklyn Museum

Paul McCartney Photographs 1963–64: Eyes of the Storm Opens Today at the Brooklyn Museum 

Exhibition features hundreds of photographs from Paul McCartney’s personal archives documenting the rise of Beatlemania.

(c) 2024 MPL Communications Ltd/ Photographer: Theo Wargo.

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As The Beatles captured the hearts of millions, Paul McCartney captured it all on his Pentax film camera. Paul McCartney Photographs 1963–64: Eyes of the Storm takes visitors inside the 1963–64 frenzy of Beatlemania, as the band’s first U.S. tour skyrocketed them to global fame. More than 250 of McCartney’s photographs, recently rediscovered in his archives, reveal his singular vantage point at the center of this whirlwind of attention and adoration—illuminating both the historical, and the personal, moments McCartney and his bandmates experienced together. First on view at the National Portrait Gallery in London, England, the exhibition makes its New York debut at the Brooklyn Museum, opening May 3, 2024, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies. 

“Since first arriving in New York in February 1964, Paul McCartney has built a strong, everlasting connection to the city. His vibrant photographs from The Beatles’ first visit capture the energy of the city, the excitement of the American fans, and the frenzy of the band’s status as celebrities. Yet the images also record The Beatles’ fun and delight with each other. Through McCartney’s lens, we feel the intensity of being at the center of such extraordinary events,” says Catherine Futter, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Curator of Decorative Arts. 

In an immersive installation of photography, video clips, and archival material, Eyes of the Storm traces the period when The Beatles played concert halls in Liverpool and London and began to tour internationally, first to Paris and then to the United States. McCartney’s photographs convey the intensity of the band’s touring schedule in the U.S., as the Fab Four were swept from concerts to hotels to the road with rabid fans and paparazzi at their heels, from New York and Washington, DC, to Miami. The band’s arrival in New York signaled a turning point in popular culture, as their first televised performance on The Ed Sullivan Show was watched by around seventy three million people and launched The Beatles into superstardom. 

McCartney’s explorations in photography reflect his commitment to both the musical and visual arts. The range of work, from portraiture and landscape photos to documentary images, reveals McCartney’s familiarity with the formal styles of early 1960s photography. References to New Wave, documentary filmmaking, and photojournalism can be found across the exhibition. 

Eyes of the Storm not only showcases McCartney’s artistic versatility but also serves as a personal and historical archive. In addition to documenting the demands of touring and nonstop media attention, the photographs evoke an affectionate family album, picturing his fellow band members, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, at a time when their lives were changing irrevocably. The exhibition gives visitors a highly personal glimpse into an extraordinary time period of one of music’s enduring legends. 

Born in Liverpool, England, Paul McCartney rose to prominence as a founding member of The Beatles. Throughout his lifetime, McCartney has played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of popular music and culture more broadly. 

Paul McCartney Photographs 1963–64: Eyes of the Storm has been organized by the National Portrait Gallery, London, England, in collaboration with Paul McCartney. It is curated by Paul McCartney with Sarah Brown for MPL Communications and Rosie Broadley for the National Portrait Gallery. The presentation at the Brooklyn Museum is organized by Catherine Futter, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Curator of Decorative Arts, and Jennie Tang, Executive Assistant to the Deputy Director of Art and the Director of Curatorial Affairs.

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