Gimme Shelter!

nobby-clark-stonesNobby Clark's London Blues is a melancholy tune, captured in 101 black and white photographs taken over 40 years of walking the city with a camera in his pocket. Clark's pictures don't show the London that visitors come to see. His is the London of grim working class neighborhoods, pubs, National Front marches, and gnarled old people. It's a place of diffidence and neglect and, occasionally, dignity.

And this major exhibit at Tribeca Arches has an unexpected kicker: on the upper floor of the gallery are a further 120 never-before-shown photos of the Rolling Stones, taken by Clark during the StarF*cker tour of 1976, at Earls Court. After the seeping grayness of the London pictures, the vibrant color of the Stones in action brings to mind - in a burst of pure energy -- the other London of the day.

In the 1960s and '70s, when many of these pictures were taken, London was swinging and punking. The Chelsea Arts Club was one of London's swinging-est hotspots in the '60s, but Clark's image of the place is of an old crone asleep with her feet up on a chair. In the '70s, London was full of punks. The only two in Clark's landscapes are leaning against a wall looking blank, a couple of bored policemen nearby, not even a frazzle of conflict between them. In the '80s, when Thatcher's children were buying up their council homes, Clark was taking pictures of the homeless huddling around a bonfire under the Arches in Charing Cross.

Nobby Clark has had a long career in the U.K. as a press photographer and a portraitist. His photos of actors, opera singers and musicians have graced newspapers and theater foyers for decades. As the combination of London Blues and StarF*cker makes clear, he is equally talented at capturing both stillness and action. Just look at the two old folks on a bench somewhere, drooping shoulders, lined faces, and a bottle of Old English beer between them. And then go look at a photo of Mick Jagger's 33-year-old bum in motion. - Sue Woodman

Nobby Clark: London Blues and StarF*cker are on show at Tribeca Arches, 172 Duane Street, through December 20.

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Ms. Woodman is an ex-Brit and veteran journalist with a keen eye for detail.

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