Iconic: Baron Wolman Images of an Era

May 30th-Juy 7th

Fueled by the music and the times, a 21-year-old journalist named Jann Wenner gathered some friends and began a revolution in ink. Named Rolling Stone, this newsprint rag captured the era, defined it in print and pictures, and helped form a generation. Among the friends that Wenner interested in his project was Wolman, then a 30-year-old freelance photojournalist.

Born in Columbus, Ohio on June 25, 1937, Baron Wolman became interested in photography while serving in the Army as a counter-intelligence officer in Berlin. There, Wolman sold his first photo essay for publication, a story about life behind the then-new Berlin Wall. After his discharge from the military, he moved to California to pursue a career as a photojournalist.

In 1967, a 21-year-old journalist named Jann Wenner gathered some friends and started the revolutionary rock music publication Rolling Stone, a newsprint magazine that captured the era and defined it in print and pictures. Among the friends that Wenner recruited for the project was Wolman, who had been working as a freelance photographer for magazines like Life and Look. Wolman was hired as the first chief photographer for Rolling Stone.

“The chance to be a part of the first days of Rolling Stone came out of the blue,” Wolman said. “It turned out to be the perfect fit: it released the latent creative forces as a photographer I didn't know I had and working with the magazine came to define my career. I loved the music and the musicians and always tried to honor them and respectfully show them in the best possible light.”

During Wolman’s fast-paced tenure at the magazine, his lens captured the icons of 1960s rock and pop: Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Frank Zappa, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Jim Morrison and many more. Wolman’s unique access to his subjects, combined with his keen eye, gave his photos an intimate, direct and up-close-and-personal quality that was rare and unprecedented.

“I see myself as a kind of voyeur,” Wolman said. “I’m happiest when I’m invisible and watching. …I’m a chameleon and can adapt myself to the situation, and that, to me, is one of the gifts that I was given naturally and that’s how you get honest pictures.”

Wolman left Rolling Stone in late 1970, going on to start his own fashion magazine, Rags, and to become a pilot in order to hone his skills as an aerial photographer. He later founded Squarebooks Publishing and worked on numerous and diverse photography projects, including the 2011 book Every Picture Tells a Story…Baron Wolman: The Rolling Stone Years.

“I look at life like this huge buffet table,” said Wolman. “And I’m not going to stop at the appetizers. I want to eat from the whole table. If you do that, you pay the price in some way, but you get to taste every flavor. …I have had such a cool life.”

All photos are from the Collection of Baron Wolman