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As the guitarist, songwriter and co-founder of the seminal disco post-punk pop band Blondie, Chris Stein was at the epicenter of everything cool in the 1970s, playing gigs at every now legendary New York hot spot when punk was exploding. But the musician, also an SVA alumnus (1973 Fine Arts), wasn't just living it up during the New York '70s heyday, he was documenting it, constantly. Now renowned for his keen eye just as much as his musical legacy, Stein kept an unrivaled photographic record of the downtown New York City scene during punk's golden age. His gorgeous new photo book for Rizzoli, Point of View: Me, New York City, and the Punk Scene, is a visually arresting and personal collection of photographs which captures an important but fading chapter in Manhattan's history.
SVA is proud to host Point of View: A Conversation with Blondie's Chris Stein and Debbie Harry on Thursday, January 31, at 6:30pm at the SVA Theatre presented by SVA Career Development. Stein and Blondie lead singer Debbie Harry will discuss Stein's new book of photographs and their recollections of these halcyon days; the talk will be moderated by multidisciplinary artist and director Rob Roth. Following the discussion, Stein will sign copies of his book, which will be available for purchase.
Here's an excerpt of Stein's time at SVA from his first book Chris Stein/Negative: Me, Blondie, and the Advent of Punk released in 2014 on the eve of Blondie's 40th anniversary.
"My first year at the School of Visual Arts in New York was 1966–'67. I left for a few years to be a hippie, then came back in the early seventies. I was a fine arts major, but this was at the height of early conceptual art, which I found sort of dry, so I drifted into photography. SVA was a hipster breeding ground and I started seeing flyers for something called the New York Dolls on the lobby bulletin boards. I think initially I thought it was a drag act, but I eventually came upon a Village Voice review that identified them as a rock band, comparing the singer to Mick Jagger..."
Once Stein found that inspiration, the rest, as they say, is history. Stein's photographic work has been featured in galleries and press around the world, and beyond his era-defining music with Blondie, he has collaborated with a host of artists over the years, including Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, William Burroughs, Devo, Glenn O'Brien, and Shepard Fairy.
Point of View focuses mainly on a single decade in Stein's own world, and the striking photos are presented with his thoughtful perspective and memories of that era. The images presented take the reader from self-portraits in his run-down East Village apartment to candid photographs of pop cultural icons of the time—like Harry, Lou Reed, Andy Warhol, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Divine—and evocative shots of New York City streetscapes in all their most longed-for romance and dereliction.
Open to the SVA community and to the general public, Point of View: A Conversation with Blondie's Chris Stein and Debbie Harry is now sold out, but you will be able to watch the livestream here on YouTube on the evening of January 31.
Update: Watch the the full archived Q&A conversation below.