The Astrid Kirchherr Early Beatles Collection of photographs – available exclusively at Rock Paper Photo - is one of the most important photographic records of a time in 20th century popular culture that was quite simply magical. Rock Paper Photo is the birth of a cataclysmic youth movement as personified by a group of young men from the north of Engalnd was witnessed via the camera of a style-innovating young German woman who befriended and influenced them. All of them were in the right place, at the right time, to make history together. Astrid Kirchherr’s lens caught the members of the Beatles as they transitioned from unknown teenagers to famous rock stars, from innocent to wise, from youths to men. These photographs remain as witnesses to this era, and viewers of the collection are privileged to experience them.
Astrid Kirchherr, an art and fashion student in post-war Hamburg, was introduced to The Beatles in the early part of her professional photography career at the KaiserKeller Club where the group was on contract to play seven hours of music per day and night. Astrid saw something special in this young group and began to photograph them in her home and various settings around her city. These photos were characterized by the stunning professional look they gave to the young group who had never experienced a professional photography session before.
While a special friendship emerged between the original members of The Beatles, Astrid Kirchherr fell in love with original Beatles bassist Stuart Sutcliffe, and the two were engaged at the time of his death in 1962. Astrid would remain in a close relationship with the remaining Beatles, and continued her work taking intimate photographs of the group through 1964.
In many ways, Astrid’s work with The Beatles, when viewed chronologically in its entirety, leaves a haunting impression on anyone who has ever been interested in their meteoric rise. Her photographs of the early pre-fame Beatles show fresh-faced teenagers thrilled by opportunity and new experiences. However, as time went on, Astrid expertly captured how the increasing toll of fame and attention gradually lead to a wiser, and sometimes sadder, group of young men. The collection of her work includes hundreds of vintage and contemporary photography prints, as well as their original negatives. Nearly 50 years after most of these photographs were taken, Astrid Kirchherr's archive was scheduled to be auctioned at New York's Guernsey's auction house in late September of 2011. However, a private buyer purchased the entire archive two days before the auction. About half of the images in the sold archive have never been published.