There’s something about Jimi Hendrix’s confident grin -- so ingenuous and inviting -- that disarms the observer and plays against stereotype, as do so many of the images in “Hendrix Revealed,” a new exhibit of Hendrix photographs that opened May 29 and will continue nearly a month, the largest display of them ever mounted in the U.S.
The website Celebrity Vault in Beverly Hills is hosting the collection in association with U.K.-based Raj Prem Fine Art Photography. The show appeared in London six months earlier and all the photos are for sale.
Along with images that helped define late-'60s popular culture, there are several that should give pause: Hendrix playing a Gibson Les Paul and a Flying V (he is forever identified with the Fender Stratocaster); Gered Mankowitz’s prints mounted on aluminum (only five were done, exclusively for the show), upon which Hendrix’s iridescent “Sgt. Pepper” jacket appears etched and the velvet softly glows; and the informal and most “revealing” studio shots snapped by producer Eddie Kramer.
Other photographers include Barry Levine, Ed Caraeff, Ed Thacker, Dezo Hoffman, Barry Peake, David Magnus, Baron Wolman and David Montgomery, who made the famous naked women U.K. cover of “Electric Ladyland” -- banned in the U.S. but on display at the exhibit. All the photos were taken during his time with the Experience, with both Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell looking undeniably English (and all three look unimaginably young).
But the focus is on Hendrix: irrepressibly live onstage, absorbed in the recording studio, posed, candid, solo or with the Experience, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton or the Who. The overall picture that emerges is one of quiet confidence and a magnetic charisma.
As Mankowitz says, “I decided that I didn’t have to do very much. It wasn’t really necessary to add anything. He was there. It was just a question of trying to get him to be himself and communicate to the camera.”
Ten percent of all proceeds will benefit the Experience Music Project, located in Hendrix’s hometown of Seattle and currently running its own interactive Hendrix exhibit through April 2010.
“Hendrix Revealed,” Celebrity Vault, 345 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills. Through June 27. (310) 858-7815.