Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow until January 12 2020
“My photography is me,” the artist formerly known as Linda Eastman once said about her work. This shines through this remarkable era-defining exhibition, put together with love by her husband Paul and two daughters Stella and Mary two decades after McCartney’s death.
Like Yoko Ono, McCartney is too often disgracefully derided as being some kind of Beatles hanger-on. The expansive range of both public and private moments gathered here together for the first time, however, reveal a major artist in her own right.
There is an easy intimacy to everything McCartney shot, from her swinging sixties portraits of the rock and roll jet-set at play, to more personal images of her family in the Scottish countryside on their Campbeltown farm. Both are here, with early assignments including a gnomic Neil Young and a yawning Jimi Hendrix. A smiling fab four are captured in their psychedelic pomp at the Sgt Pepper's press launch. A cooler, cockier Brian Jones and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones are framed elsewhere in their own state of majesty. And let's not forget McCArtney’s images of The Beatles on Abbey Road, which, as they process in line as if crossing a parted Red Sea, are larkier and less studied than Iain Macmillan’s actual album cover shot.
Among the portraits of a family at rest, one of a naked Paul on the bed with a new-born Mary encapsulates a warmth that all but embraces the viewer. A 1970 shot of Paul on a Glasgow street captures him roaring like a Gorbals legend. With later images including a wise Allen Ginsberg and Kate Moss and Johnny Depp sharing the coolest of cuddles, in terms of pop history, McCartney’s access all areas insight is unparalleled. Beatles heads will lap it up in all its fab-gearness, but it's family affairs that matter most.
The List, July 2019.