Lauren White and George Augusto recently unveiled "Found"—a set of never-before-seen photos of the Rolling Stones on a road trip through Savannah, Georgia and Clearwater, Florida in 1965—at LA's Dilettante Gallery. The 23 candid, intimate images were lost in a box that eventually made its way to a flea market in Saugus, California, where White discovered them. The series speaks volumes about an era that saw the birth of rock 'n' roll, and offers a rare glimpse of the band's formative days. We talked to White to get the backstory.
These photographs were a lucky find—tell us about how you came across them.
I feel lucky. I really didn't expect to find them at a flea market. Basically, a guy who runs one of the stands called me over because I "looked like I would like rock 'n' roll"—and he was right. I don't know what was lost in translation, however. He obviously didn't know what he had. To tell the truth, I didn't either. I obviously knew it was the Stones, but it took about a week of looking them over to realize that this was really a very unique circumstance. After extensive research, I came to find that these are unpublished, never-before-seen photos of one of the most legendary bands in rock 'n' roll history. Not only that, they are beautifully composed, candid, raw and perfect in every way. They really convey a band innocent to their destiny.
How did the exhibition come about?
I knew I had to do something, so I approached a friend of mine, George Augusto, who owns Dilettante, a really cool music and art space in downtown Los Angeles. He wanted to do the show with me, which I thought was amazing. We decided to co-curate, and built a great team around us with Taylor Livingston and Alison Gorusch from art project management firm Apart Productions, and my father, Stephen White. Everyone collaborated on the show, which was really special and unique.
You've said that your intuition tells you a woman shot these photos. What makes you think that?
In a lot of the images, the guys are looking directly into the lens. It's hard to get boys to be that vulnerable, especially in front of a camera. They are also sort of showing off. I think a girl is the only thing that could convince them to allow those kinds of shots. It's hard to imagine a dude is evoking these intimate moments, but you never know.
Are you trying to find out who shot the photos?
Yes, we've been researching and calling old managers. I would love to have the mystery solved, he or she deserves the credit for such beautiful artwork.
What is your background as a curator?
This is actually my first time curating a show. My parents are art collectors and dealers from LA—they really opened the doors to fine art photography in California by creating one of the first LA galleries in 1975 called Stephen White Gallery—so art has always been in my life. I'm a musician and I play in a couple bands, and I guess I would call myself a collector of photography and books, but music is my passion. Fusing together the two is what I enjoy doing best.
How do the photos make you feel as a musician?
Hopeful, more than anything. It's so nice to see that every musician, every artist every kind of "celebrity" of sorts is human. They also had to work for their success. I think there's something about fame that erases that past of a person—like they never really existed before they were famous. I feel like these photos are so exciting to look at, because the Stones are legends, but this reveals that they are just like everyone else, and I think that's so endearing.
Tell me about your band, Lavinia Slaughter.
It's kind of dark, dreamy poetic music. I don't know. I'm very inspired by literature–from Shakespearian dialogue and metaphors to James Joyce randomness. Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of my favorite poets. He had a lot to do with the inspiration for this band. We are releasing our first EP this winter and playing or first show in LA sometime in November.
What's next for this exhibition? Where do you want to take it?
It looks like we'll be traveling to Art Basel Miami this December with the show, which is super exciting. After that, New York is in the works and hopefully the UK early next year.
Are you always going to keep the originals?
Yes. For now at least. They are so rad and beautiful and I love them. After the show tours around, we'll see if the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame wants to step in.
What are your favorite flea markets around California?
In Los Angeles, the Fairfax Flea Market, the Topanga Vintage Market and the Pasadena City College Flea Market. Rose Bowl overwhelms me. I also like the Alemany Flea Market in San Francisco. Most of the time, I just happen upon them or find a random one and go. You really never know what you can find in the middle of nowhere.
"Found" is on view through 26 October at Dilettante in LA.