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Amy Winehouse: A Family Portait

Jul 23, 2015–Nov 1, 2015

Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait is a personal and intimate exhibition about Amy Winehouse (1983–2011), curated by the Jewish Museum London with help from her brother Alex and sister-in-law Riva. The Winehouse family gave the Jewish Museum unprecedented access to Amy’s belongings, including her guitar, record collection, and iconic outfits.

about the exhibition

The exhibition celebrates her passion for music and fashion, and her love for London and her family. A Family Portrait tells the story of a second-generation Jewish immigrant experience. Winehouse’s family came to London from Belarus in the late nineteenth century, and she grew up in a secular and assimilated Jewish environment. Many unseen photographs of Amy’s family life will be on display, revealing her strong Jewish roots and heritage as well as her close family relationships.

A British singer-songwriter, Amy Winehouse rose to international success, however briefly and tragically; she was called “the pre-eminent vocal talent of her generation,” by the BBC. Known for her voice and eclectic mix of jazz, pop, soul, and R&B, she won five Grammy Awards and had numerous hit songs including “Rehab,” “Back to Black,” and “Valerie.” Winehouse died tragically at the age of 27. Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait honors her memory and accomplishments, as well as provides a personal portrait of her family life and Jewish heritage not always visible in her public life.

gallery photos

Amy Winehouse was an international phenomenon, with multiple hit singles such as Rehab (2006) and You Know I’m No Good (2006), her Grammy Award-winning album Back to Black (2006), and critical acclaim for her live performances.

Winehouse’s paternal family—originally spelled Wienhause—immigrated to England from Belarus in the late nineteenth century, and settled in London’s East End. Both her mother’s and father’s side were Jewish, and though they were not particularly religious, they shared a strong Jewish cultural identity and adhered to a number of traditions, such as celebrating Passover and gathering for Shabbat dinners. Many of Winehouse’s family members were involved with music and had an influence on her own artistic development. She especially considered her paternal grandmother Cynthia Winehouse (née Gordon) a great inspiration for her distinctive sense of fashion and her passion for jazz and big band music.

Winehouse grew up in Southgate, a neighborhood in north London, with her mother Janis, father Mitch, and older brother Alex. Both her father and brother introduced her to music and contributed to developing her musical skills by singing duets at home. She and her brother shared a Regal guitar, also on display in the exhibition. Her taste in jazz, swing, and soul music developed early on, and she had an ever-growing collection of LP records by musicians such as Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, and Sarah Vaughan.

In 2006, Winehouse’s second album, Back to Black, changed her life and career, and propelled her to international stardom in just a few months. She then toured the world, gave concerts, and received awards for her songwriting and performances.

amy's chill-out mix

Relax and enjoy Amy's chill-out tape it in the comfort of your own home with this Spotify playlist.

notes from visitors

Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait is presented at The Contemporary Jewish Museum in cooperation with the Jewish Museum London. Major sponsorship has been provided by BNY Mellon Wealth Management, Gaia Fund, and Wendy and Richard Yanowitch.

Media Sponsorship for Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait is provided by 7x7.

Major support for The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s exhibitions and Jewish Peoplehood Programs comes from the Koret Foundation.

Image Credit

Header image: Mark Okoh, Camera Press London. Amy at her home in Camden town, 2004.