Bak’s photos of the Beastie Boys and the “Licensed to Ill” tour solidified Sunny’s place as a serious rock and celebrity photographer. Simultaneously, her love of animals, especially dogs, led to the creation of the best selling People Magazine parody, Pupple. These two diverse collections of images represent the work that have defined Sunny’s career.
“It’s been 25 years since I looked at the images I shot of the Beastie Boys in NYC with Garrett Simmons when we were working on a book called Pupple,” says Sunny Bak of this new exhibition. “This show is part retrospective and part looking toward the future as Garrett and I are working on a follow up to the original Pupple. It’s an homage to the beasty in all of us.”
Photographing celebrities since high school, Sunny has shot celebrities like Madonna, 10,000 Maniacs, Gregory Peck, Keanu Reeves, Seth Green, and Carol Alt. She spent time on the road with the up-and-coming The Beastie Boys on their 1986 “Licensed to Ill” tour. Sunny shot the iconic images that were featured in the multi-platinum album’s artwork.
“Within the context of our culture, from Kanye, to Banksy to Obama, hip hop is an undeniable pillar of our culture,” says Hold Up Art curator Brian Lee. “Though many people overlook the 80s hip hop scene as being dated and over-played, too much of our contemporary notions of the ‘artist,’ and issues of ‘anti-authority’ that color the way we perceive the Shepard Fairey’s of the day, are informed directly by the attitude and movement of the genre. Sunny Bak’s photos follow the Beastie’s during their late 80s ‘Licensed to Ill’ tour, offering a very intimate perspective on such a ground-breaking time. Whether it is our distance in time or the closeness Sunny shared with The Beastie Boys, Bak’s photos bring you closer to understanding who these three guys really were, aside from their music videos. The photos reveal the personal side of them, and a universal story of youth, potential, and the American Dream.”
Sunny’s best-selling book, Pupple, co-created with Garrett Simmons, took a different look at celebrity photography. She photographed dogs, dressed as celebrities in a parody of People Magazine. With new celebrities to feature, Sunny and Garrett are currently working on the follow up to Pupple.
Most recently, Sunny’s work has appeared in Jay-Z’s online promotion with BING for his book, Decoded, and in the Rizolli book, Def Jam Recordings: The First 25 Years of the Last Great Record Label.