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Rock/Fight: Inside the New Photography Exhibit

New show pairs rock & roll with classic boxing, wrestling photos

rock vs. fight

©Theo Ehret/©Lynn Goldsmith - courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery.

For three decades, the late, unsung photographer Theo Ehret worked as the house cameraman at the Grand Olympic Auditorium in L.A., shooting boxing matches, professional wrestling and the weird underbelly of the fight game. Ehret died last year at age 92, but not before attracting an admiring group of fellow photographers. One of them, Timothy White – the celebrity photographer who got his start in major magazines with Rolling Stone – kept seeing parallels between Ehret's combative subjects and the posturing of classic rock & roll photography. 

"The bodies, the power, the grace," says White. "The ugliness and the beauty, and of course the vanity. There are so many words that fit these comparisons." A co-owner of the Morrison Hotel Gallery, he organized Rock/Fight, a new exhibit at Hollywood's Project Gallery featuring some of Ehret's photos paired with the work of rock photographers including Bob Gruen, Edward Colver and more. Henry Rollins hosts the opening party on Thursday, September 12th. Click through to see some of the exhibit's highlights.

By James Sullivan

FIght vs Rock

©Theo Ehret/©Edward Colver- courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery.

Jabs

"What better example of the violence of rock & roll, and the communicative power of it all, than Henry Rollins?" asks White. "To me, this was an important picture in starting the whole process."

FIght vs Rock

©Theo Ehret/©Barrie Wentzell - courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery.

Raging Bulls

"I'm not a huge sports fan, but I love boxing," says White. "There's something about it that's so wonderfully raw and human. And it's all about the lighting, which is why Raging Bull means so much to me – that quality of light."

FIght vs Rock

©Theo Ehret/©Henry Diltz - courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery.

Smoke and Mirrors

Sometimes the parallels between pairings are readily apparent, and sometimes White took a leap of faith. "Little things come together, and it starts to make sense," he says.

FIght vs Rock

©Theo Ehret/©Bob Gruen - courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery.

Cut Men

Sometimes an image of Ehret's, like the one on the left here, had an obvious counterpart in rock photography. "I'm a big fan of Bob Gruen's," says White, who collaborated with the late rock photographer Jim Marshall on the book Match Prints (2010). "I knew his image of Sid [Vicious], with the slashes, and I said, 'There has to be a Theo to match.'"

FIght vs Rock

©Theo Ehret/©Edward Colver - courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery.

Grace

In the Eighties, the Olympic became known as a home for the SoCal hardcore scene. "I get the sense that Theo was a documentarian but not quite aware of how creative and artistic these images are," he says. "There's a grace and a choreography, a ballet and a violence to all of this that started to make sense."

 

FIght vs Rock

©Theo Ehret/©Janette Beckman - courtesy of Morrison Hotel Gallery.

Arbus

"The pairing of the two guys with glasses – tell me that's not Arbus-esque."