‘prince from minneapolis’ comes to seattle museum

April 8, 2019
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It may be hard to believe, but Prince really is gone. His tragic and wholly unexpected death in April of 2016 has only elevated the mythology surrounding his massive creative output and legacy, creating a  space for exhibitions like “Prince From Minneapolis,” which opened over the weekend at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP).

Allen Beaulieu, “Prince Looking” (1982) (©Allen Beaulieu/photographer)

One of the greatest and most popular musicians of his generation, Prince Rogers Nelson also made a rare and deep connection to his audience that transcended his fame — so maybe forgive the fans for seeking each opportunity to toast and cheer and grieve their hero, for it is just as likely that they grieve for themselves. “Prince From Minneapolis” is one such opportunity.

Marie France, “The Kid signature shirt from the film ‘Purple Rain'” (1984); (Photo: Jonathan Pulley/Museum of Pop Culture)

Though it is not affiliated with Prince’s estate, which controls most visual, audio and official memorabilia that bears the artist’s name and likeness, the MoPOP show and the works on view is of an exceptional quality and standard. And much of the credit has to go to the curation of images by four photographers who were central to creating Prince’s image, and of letting his audience get closer to him.

Troy Gua, “Purple Rain” (2014)

Here are Robert Whitman’s iconic pre-fame portraits of Prince as a young man in Minneapolis, trying on his emerging stardom with a smile on his face. Here’s Allen Beaulieu capturing his early career rise, as the gleam was first flaring in his eye and the pensive gaze took hold. Nancy Bundt was the official “Purple Rain” tour photographer, and her concert shots show the artist in the zenith-like moment of that tour. Terry Gydesen’s pictures in the studio and on his 1993 world tour offer both unscripted moments and stunningly posed portraits.

Rock Martinez, “I Would Die 4 U” (2017)

There are also nearly 50 artifacts, including other photos, artwork, a Prince guitar, a Prince-inspired bicycle, fans artwork, outfits from the “Purple Rain” Tour and film, and more. It’s all good and well – but ultimately it’s simply a chance to take stock of your own feelings regarding this very special person. If you have any to begin with, maybe take the opportunity.

The exhibit, Prince From Minneapolis, is on view at the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) in Seattle, through January 2020.