The Velvet Underground Exhibition at the Philharmonie de Paris
For the 50th anniversary of the mythic Banana Album, this exhibition shares the legacy of the Velvet Underground, the illustrious but short-lived band (1965-1970) that marked a major turning point in the history of music.
The exhibition opens with an overview of America at the dawn of the 1960s, taking visitors through the emergence of obscure artistic movements and their evolution as they move from the fringe to gaining mainstream status. This was the backdrop to the improbable meeting between Lou Reed and John Cale.
Their super-charged synergy gave rise to an extremely prolific yet fleeting collaboration, and an utterly new, intriguing and toxic universe.
In December 1965, Andy Warhol took this group of punks before their time under his wing at his Factory, where they were joined by an almost too-perfect beauty who called herself Nico. Flirting with all the other arts, the avant-garde and the world of fashion, they put together grandiose, futuristic shows featuring a fusion of live music, film projection, lights and dance with their crude lyrics and unbridled sex symbol.
Too far ahead of their time, the band was a commercial failure. After the release of a dynamite second album, cracks due to the excessive lifestyle and clashing egos led to the end of the Velvet in 1968. The group came together again for two final albums that were mellower and more serene, marking the debut of Lou Reed's solo career.
It was only after the Velvet had already broken up that it rocketed to fame, achieving a unique status in the history of rock. The Velvet Underground has undeniable appeal: its fascinating sonority, captive spirit, and uncompromising irreverence have galvanised musicians for generations, from Iggy Pop to Nirvana.
Philharmonie de Paris
221, avenue Jean-Jaurès
Admission fees and rates
- Ticket price: 10€
- Concessions: 5€