21 March – 6 May 2018 

Private View: Tuesday, 20 March, 6 – 9 PM 

Note: This exhibition has been extended! Selected prints are on show now at ME London Hotel to coincide with Photo London, until 17 June.

10 May – 17 June (ME London)

Open to all & Free entry

ME London Hotel, 336-337 Strand, London WC2R 1HA (opposite Somerset House)


© Michael Abramson


“Abramson comes much closer to recording the sound of these clubs than we would have any right to expect from a photographer.”

Nick Hornby (London, 2009)

MMX Gallery presents “Tales from the South Side. 1970s Chicago Clubs”, a solo exhibition by the late American photographer Michael Abramson.
The exhibition focuses on his best known photographs from the 1970s, documenting the nightlife of Black clubs on Chicago’s South Side and the underground funk/blues and early disco scene. It’s a celebration of the style and culture of a bygone era.

As a white photographer working in black nightclubs, which was taboo at the time, Abramson was always welcome to photograph and became a functioning part of the club’s atmosphere, he gained recognition and respect for his photographs giving many of them away to the clubbers. He also embraced the sounds and the ambience of the nights. In his own words: “I had a ball”.

This series won Abramson a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1978 and launched his career as a photojournalist. Eventually the project resulted in a hardbound book, Light: On the South Side, including the Grammy and Mojo nominated album, featuring Chicago blues as heard in the clubs from the stage and the jukebox.

“A camera is a window through which a photographer interacts with the world, and it’s up to the operator to decide whether his camera will be a barrier or a mirror between he and his subjects. In the 1970s, Michael Abramson chose the latter path when he brought his camera to Pepper’s Hideout on Chicago’s South Side. Following in the footsteps of his acknowledged influence Gyula Halász, a Hungarian photographer better known as Brassaï who became the pre-eminent chronicler of the Paris nightlife he loved so much, Abramson initiated himself into the nightlife of Chicago’s predominantly black neighbourhoods. He was very much a part of the scene he documented on film, drinking, laughing, and dancing with his subjects into small hours and becoming as much a part of the atmosphere as the locals who frequented the same nightspots he did.” – Joe Tangari (Numero Group, 2009)

All works in the exhibition at MMX Gallery are vintage silver gelatin prints made by the photographer at the time there were taken. This will be the first time Abramson’s work will be shown in UK.


Michael L Abramson (1948-2011), graduated with Master of Photography from Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago in 1977. His work was regularly featured in Time, New York Times, Newsweek, People, Forbes, Harpers, Wall Street Journal and other popular American and international magazines.
He was a highly sought after commercial portrait photographer and photojournalist. His subjects comprised celebrities, prominent stars from sport and the entertainment industry.
His work was exhibited frequently since 1978, including a solo show at Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, in 2014 and in the same year the group show on American Photography since 1950 at Madison Museum of Contemporary Arts (US). His photographs are in major collections including the Smithsonian, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago History Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, the California Museum of Photography and various private collections.



The Guardian, (14 March, 2018) Funky Town: Chicago nightclubs in the 1970’s 

British Journal of Photography, (19 March, 2018) – Perv’s House and more – Chicago’s South Side clubs captured by Michael Abramson in the 1970s

Monovisions Black & White Photography Magazine/ Featured exhibition (22 March, 2018)

L’Oeil de la Photographie, (28 March, 2018) – Les excentriques clubs de Chicago dans les années 1970, photographiés par Michael Abramson/ 1970’s eccentric Chicago clubs, photographed by Michael Abramson 

Financial Times, (30 March 2018) – Snapshot: ‘Tales from the South Side. 1970s Chicago Clubs’ by Michael Abramson


The full press release (PDF file) can be downloaded here: Michael Abramson – Tales from the South Side. 1970’s Chicago Clubs – PRESS RELEASE




© Michael Abramson

“This is as close as a lot of us could ever have got, and luckily, it’s pretty close. If we are ever given the chance to go back there, we now know where to go, what to wear, what to drink, what to smoke, what to drive, how to dance, how close we can get—like a good novelist, Abramson is particularly attuned to relationships and how to frame them. “

– Nick Hornby (2009)
© Michael Abramson