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Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip: Photographs by Robert Landau


Robert Landau, Beatles, Abbey Road, 1969. Image ©Robert Landau.


VERO BEACH, FL— Be transported to Los Angeles’ celebrated Sunset Strip of the late 1960s and 70s and immerse yourself in rock and roll nostalgia when the Vero Beach Museum of Art opens its summer exhibition Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip: Photographs by Robert Landau, on view in the Holmes Gallery from May 18 to September 1, 2024.


In those years, the Sunset Strip was the heart and soul of a vibrant music scene—home to record companies, record stores, and legendary nightclubs. Through the lens of his camera, photographer Robert Landau chronicled the ephemeral pop-culture masterpieces—classic rock and roll billboards—that loomed over L.A.’s most iconic boulevard for only weeks before being dismantled, white-washed, and painted over with newer images.


Robert Landau, The Who - Tommy, 1972. Image ©Robert Landau.


Often adapted from edgy album cover art, the hand-painted wooden panels depicted imagery that eschewed traditional commercial considerations and instead reflected the period’s latest trends in music, graphic art, and even fine art, transforming the Strip into a veritable drive-thru art gallery. Everyone in the world of classic rock from the Beatles and Bowie to Led Zeppelin and Zappa was represented, beginning with the Doors’ breakthrough promotion for their debut record in 1967 right up until the advent of MTV in the early 80s.


The exhibition comprises 50 photographs; four of which are presented on a monumental scale. These include 40 images that Landau took—some captured as a teenager when he was living with his father in an apartment above the Tower Records store on the Strip—and ten historical photographs that complement Landau’s to reveal the progression of signage into billboard art, highlighting the intersection of art and advertising.


Robert Landau, Donna Summer, 1977. Image ©Robert Landau.


Among the musical artists represented in the billboards themselves are: The Beatles; Bruce Springsteen; Crosby, Stills, and Nash; David Bowie; David Lee Roth; Donna Summer; The Eagles

Electric Light Orchestra; Elvis Costello; The Eurythmics; Faces; Humble Pie; Jackson Browne; Joe Cocker; John Lennon; Madonna; Marvin Gaye; Nazareth; Neil Young; Pink Floyd; Procol Harum; Queen; Randy Newman; Rhinoceros; Rick Wakeman; Rod Stewart; The Rolling Stones; Santana; Ted Nugent; URO; and The Who.


Robert Landau, Sunset Strip, 1979. Image ©Robert Landau.


With the release of his book Rock ‘N’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip (Angel City Press, 2012), Robert Landau in conjunction with Photographic Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, California, organized a touring exhibition consisting of photographs of the key imagery from the book and pertinent text panels. The exhibition brings to life this unique and rarely seen period in the history of rock and roll while shedding new light on the fabled Sunset Strip.


 

This exhibition was organized by Photographic Travelling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA.

The Vero Beach Museum of Art is at 3001 Riverside Park Drive, Vero Beach, Florida 32963. Directions: From I-95 (Exit 147), from U.S.1, and Indian River Boulevard, take State Road 60 east over the Merrill Barber Bridge to the beachside, and turn right at the first traffic light into Riverside Park. Parking is free.


Visit the website to learn more about this and other upcoming exhibitions and events at the Vero Beach Museum of Art.


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