The University of Arizona Center for Creative Photography will host the North American premiere of “The Linda McCartney Retrospective” from Feb. 25 to Aug. 5. The exhibition celebrates McCartney’s 30-year, barrier-breaking career, as well as her connection to Tucson.
McCartney’s photographs are true to how she experienced life, from the extraordinary photos of her time in Tucson to pictures of the dynamic music scene of the 1960s to images of her domestic life in London. In 1968, she became the first female photographer to have her work featured on the cover of Rolling Stone, with her photo of Eric Clapton.
“The University of Arizona is thrilled to host the North American premiere of this extraordinary exhibit,” said University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. “In addition to exposing the public to Linda McCartney’s iconic work, this collection will allow our students and faculty throughout the university to learn from her innovative creative process and devotion to important societal issues.”
The exhibition will include nearly 200 pieces, divided into three broad groupings. “Artists” will include the wide range of portraits McCartney took of cultural and musical icons, including Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and Aretha Franklin. These images often captured the vulnerability of future legends in their early days. “Family” will feature images of McCartney’s most intimate relationships, documenting her view of domestic life after moving to London with her family. “Photographic Exploration” will showcase McCartney’s many experiments with photographic processes, including never-before-exhibited screen prints and a wall of Polaroid prints.
Paul McCartney and renowned photographer, and Linda and Paul’s daughter, Mary, have curated the exhibit in partnership with the Center for Creative Photography. Reflecting on Linda’s work, Paul commented, “Linda carried a camera with her most of the time capturing images in an instinctive way which left her subjects feeling totally comfortable with the process. She loved to explore and found ways to make her art joyous and innovative at the same time.”
Linda McCartney took up photography as a hobby while attending the University of Arizona in the early 1960s, taking her earliest photos with Tucson’s Sonoran Desert as a backdrop. The family has never forgotten its connection to the community. In 1979, the McCartneys purchased a ranch on Tucson’s northeast side where Linda would eventually spend her final days.
UArizona students will have significant opportunities to engage with the McCartney collection through musical performances, lectures and more. The programming will address issues important to McCartney and reflected in her work, including creative arts, sustainability and animal rights. The Center for Creative Photography plans to collaborate on innovative experiences with students and faculty working and studying in areas including music, public humanities and architecture.
“Although Linda McCartney is known in photography circles for her role in music photojournalism, this exhibition demonstrates her strengths in other genres and reveals her experimentation and range,” said Andy Schulz, UArizona vice president for the arts and dean of the College of Fine Arts. “We’re delighted to play a role in expanding audiences’ understanding of her many contributions to the photographic medium.”
The Center for Creative Photography is a fitting home for the exhibit’s North American premiere. The center collects, protects and promotes the importance of photography – which McCartney succeeded in doing during a transformational time for the medium.
“Linda’s work is at once iconic and familiar, giving her viewers both a sense of awe and connection to family, place and community,” said Staci Santa, interim director of the Center for Creative Photography. “Experiencing this exhibit will give people a feeling of connection to timeless history, loving relationships and home.”
The center houses the work of more than 2,200 photographers, including co-founder Ansel Adams, David Hume Kennerly, W. Eugene Smith and Lola Álvarez Bravo.
“The Linda McCartney Retrospective” will be free and open to the public. Details on a grand opening event will be released in the future.
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