New Brooklyn Museum exhibit will explore the legacy of Studio 54 for the first time

September 16, 2019

Dustin Pittman. Stroke of Midnight at Studio, 1978–79. Photograph, 15x 20 in. (38.1 x 50.8 cm). Courtesy of the artist. © Dustin Pittman

An exhibition opening at the Brooklyn Museum next year will explore for the first time the enduring impact of Studio 54. Opening in March, Studio 54: Night Magic examines the influence that the disco-era nightclub continues to have on design, cinema, and fashion today. Iconic photography and roughly 650 objects, including drawings, paintings, music, and decor, will be on display.

Guy Marineau (French, born 1947) Pat Cleveland on the dance floor during Halston’s disco bash at ‘Studio 54’. Halston’s disco bash at Studio 54, New York, USA – 12 Dec 1977. (Photo credit: Guy Marineau/ WWD/ Shutterstock)

Anton Perich (American, born Croatia, 1945). Karen Bjornson at Studio 54, 1978. Gelatin silver photograph, 20 x 24 in. (50.8 x 61 cm). Courtesy of the artist. © Anton Perich

Brooklyn natives Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell founded Studio in 1977 with dreams of opening a disco club in the middle of New York City. The club quickly became a popular hang out for A-list celebrities, designers, and artists of the era, with regulars including Bianca Jagger, Cher, Elizabeth Taylor, Andy Warhol, Michael Jackson, Truman Capote, and many more.

In addition to its notable clientele, the club was known for its decor and modern sound and lighting system. The exhibit’s design draws from Studio 54’s original lighting and features music from that era, like “Le Freak” and “I Will Survive,” both linked to the storied club, according to the museum.

Richard Bernstein (American, 1939-2002). Mariel Hemingway, 1978. Airbrush, gouache, pencil, and collage on board, 16 x 10 in. (40.6 x 25.4 cm). © The Estate of Richard Bernstein

Matthew Yokobosky, the senior curator of fashion and material culture at the Brooklyn Museum, curated the exhibition. “Studio 54 has come to represent the visual height of disco-era America: glamours people in glamours fashions, surrounded by gleaming lights and glitter, dancing ‘The Hustle’ in an opera house,” Yokobosky said in a press release.

“At a time of economic crisis, Studio 54 helped New York City to rebrand its image and set the new gold standard for a dynamic night out. Today the nightclub continues to be a model for social revolution, gender fluidity, and sexual freedom.”

Dustin Pittman. Red Balloons, 1979. Photograph, 10 x 8 in. (25.4 x 20.3 cm). Courtesy of the artist. © Dustin Pittman.

Yves Saint Laurent (French, 1936-2008). Chinese-inspired sketch dedicated to “Stev,” 1978. © Foundation Pierre Berge–Yves Saint Laurent, Paris.

The exhibition is organized chronologically, starting with a look at New York City nightclubs before Studio 54 opened and then progressing into the city of the 1970s. Studio 54: Night Magic includes blueprints and models highlighting the clubs development, photography and video, and more than 50 costume sketches by Antonio Lopex for the opening night performance at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Studio 54: Night Magic is a ticketed exhibition on view from March 13 to July 5 of next year. Tickets will go on sale Oct. 8 and cost $25 for adults, $16 for seniors and students, and $10 for children under 12. Get more information here.


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