From March 30 to Aug 21, the Philharmonie de Paris will be paying tribute to the illustrious New York rock band, The Velvet Underground, with an exhibition marking the 50th anniversary of the band’s The Velvet Underground And Nico album whose cover is illustrated with Andy Warhol’s iconic banana artwork.

Widely recognised as one of the 20th century’s influential cult rock groups, the Velvet Underground were only active for a short time, between 1965 and 1970. Those five years proved long enough for the band to achieve legendary status, after being formed by friends Lou Reed and John Cale in the simmering cultural melting pot of 1960s New York. The upcoming exhibition, The Velvet Underground, New York Extravaganza, takes a look at the story behind the now mythical band and their influence on the cultural movements that followed their short-lived career.

The exhibition is divided into six sections. It starts by looking at the emergence of American counter-culture, profiling figures like Allen Ginsberg – one of the leading figures of the Beat Generation – and their rebellion against consumerist post-war America.

The Velvet Underground's 1967 debut album, The Velvet Underground And Nico.

The Velvet Underground’s 1967 debut album, The Velvet Underground And Nico.

Then come sections looking at Lou Reed and John Cale, the band’s two founders, plus a section looking at 1960s New York as the cultural hotbed that gave rise to pop-art and avant-garde movements.In addition to having created the famous banana album cover, Andy Warhol was a key figure in the band’s history. The Velvet Underground was, for a time, the house band at Warhol’s “Factory” studio and apartment, the hippest hangout for artists and talents on the New York scene. The exhibition takes a closer look at the “Factory”, during the band’s Warhol era, before charting its path after the successive departures of Nico, Andy Warhol and John Cale, and examining its legacy.

The exhibition was co-created by Christian Fevret, founder of the French cultural magazine, Les Inrockuptibles, and designed by French designer Matali Crasset. It includes an audiovisual portfolio of films created for the event, as well as alternative art films and archive material, plus photos taken throughout the band’s time together. The exhibition also features portraits of The Velvet Underground members and key figures from the New York art scene, like Edie Sedwick, Andy Warhol and Candy Darling. – AFP Relaxnews