Photographer Alfred Wertheimer’s image resonates like a classic Elvis song — a burst of emotion that leaves a dent long after the first impression has faded. The intimate 1956 photo captures a strikingly beautiful Presley snuggling with a woman backstage, lost within her face, his hair perfectly coiffed. In it, an entire emotional landscape reveals itself.
This image of Presley is one of more than 175 that will arrive at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City in June, when “Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present” arrives in its West Coast premiere. The show, which originated at the Brooklyn Museum in 2009, features 100 photographers and some of the most vital and important images of the rock ’n’ roll era — including classic work by Diane Arbus, Jim Marshall, Annie Leibovitz, Pennie Smith and Ryan McGinley.
“Who Shot Rock” was curated by author Gail Buckland and arrives in L.A. for a four-month run after showing in a number of art museums the last two years. It’s the most comprehensive traveling show of rock photography ever assembled, and it reinforces the notion that image is as important as music when conveying the message of rock ’n’ roll.