TO MARCH 18

“It was Hamburg that did it. That’s where we really developed. To get the Germans going, and keep it up for twelve hours at a time, we really had to hammer. We would never have developed as much if we’d stayed at home.” This is how John Lennon once defined the Beatles’ rabble-rouser years in early-’60s Germany, a time when Stuart Sutcliffe was a future star. Hamburg was a boozy, smoky education, a darkly lit haven where the embryonic Beatles learned how to play, learned how to write—and learned how to smile and strut for the flirtatious, inquisitive camera of Sutcliffe’s girlfriend, Astrid Kirchherr. Considered the greatest visual archive of the Fab Four’s most tumultuous growth spurt, Kirchherr’s photos have been gathered—along with the distracting paintings and drawings of Revolver cover artist Klaus Voormann—for a lovingly packaged literary box set, Hamburg Days. Whereas Kirchherr’s sepia-toned shots of an elfin McCartney demonstrate why Paul was considered “the cute one,” the snaps of Lennon tell a bigger story: Behind John’s slightly dazed, ever-present smirk can be detected the birth of an acute awareness—of the beautiful journey about to commence, of the globe-rattling madness that would no doubt follow. (George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe, and John Lennon, Hamburg is pictured.) In celebration of the new collection, Kirchherr’s pictures and Voormann’s paintings and drawings—plus bonus photographs by Jurgen Vollmer and various scribbles from Sutcliffe—are on display in the “Hamburg Days” exhibition, on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday, to Saturday, March 18, at Govinda Gallery, 1227 34th St. NW. Free. (202) 333-1180. (Sean Daly)