Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Kate Moss Portfolio and Other Stories @Danziger

JTF (just the facts): A total of 37 black and white and color photographs, variously framed without mats, and hung against white walls in the two room gallery space. (Installation shots at right.)

The Kate Moss portfolio consists of 11 signed pigment prints, each 30x24 (or reverse), packaged in a box. Each of the images in the portfolio is framed in white and displayed in the front gallery space, in chronological order from left to right. The portfolio is available in an edition of 30. The photographers included and relevant dates are listed below:

Mario Sorrenti (1993)
Glen Luchford (1994)
Terry Richardson (1997)
Bruce Weber (1999)
Annie Leibovitz (1999)
Juergen Teller (2000)
Chuck Close (2005)
David Sims (2006)
Inez Van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin (2007)
Mario Testino (2008)
Mert & Marcus (2008)

The back gallery space contains additional images of Moss not included in the portfolio. Details on these images are below, as available:

Gene Lemuel (9 black and white images, each 11x14, in editions of 9, from 1988)
Glen Luchford (3 black and white images, 30x40, in editions of 10+2AP and 2 black and white images, 20x24, in editions of 15+4AP, all from 1994)
Herb Ritts (4 gold toned gelatin silver prints, in editions of 3, from 1997)
Mary McCartney (3 color images, in editions of 10, from 2004)
Peter Blake (5 images, from 2010)

Comments/Context: This review of the collected images of Kate Moss now on view at Danziger Projects desperately wanted to write itself with the painfully obvious "model as muse" story line, placing the celebrity supermodel at the center of it all for the better part of two decades, with the photographers who made the images in her shadow, paying tribute to her unforgettable, easygoing beauty. Such is the power of massive fame that its force sucks all the air out of the room.

What struck me most, however, about this new 11 image portfolio (and the supporting images in the adjoining room) was just how diverse the pictures really were, given that they are all variations on the same subject. Circling the walls, Moss is alternately quietly vulnerable, playfully brash, classically innocent, confidently elegant, deadpan blunt, low-down trashy, fashionably seductive and just plain glamorous. Depending on your perspective, this might be attributed to Moss' substantial range, her ability to shape shift, or her flexible talent for looking fantastic whatever the circumstances. On the other hand, perhaps the recognition ought to lie with the photographer's themselves, and their ability to successfully imprint their own artistic vision on such a wildly famous face.

While paring down to Moss' simple natural beauty is perhaps the most straightforward approach taken here, in a few cases, particularly the works by Juergen Teller, Terry Richardson and Chuck Close, the fact that the model is Kate Moss is almost incidental to the overall visual statement, so strong and recognizable is their control of the aesthetics. In these cases, there is a kind of ironic inversion that goes on (is that really Kate Moss?), where the fact that Moss has been taken so far outside the norms of how we typically see her plays with our now well ingrained expectations of how she is supposed to look. This acknowledgement of her role as a cultural icon makes this exhibit less a parade of glamour shots and more a layered picture of the evolution of a public persona over twenty years. She starts out as a certain young type, and the proceeds to both reinforce and play against that type over the succeeding decades, to the point where she has become both all of them and none of them at the same time.

This changeable morphing is at the heart of this show. Beauty is where it starts, but in the hands of so many talented photographers, that simplistic image of Kate Moss diverges, leaving behind something both durably memorable and oddly ephemeral. Fragments of personalities, both real and imagined, hang in the air, with the unseen Kate Moss hiding somewhere in between. And the underlying question with which I began remains stubbornly unanswered: is that a Mario Testino or a Kate Moss up there on the wall?

Collector's POV: The images in the Kate Moss portfolio are not available individually; the entire 11 print portfolio starts at $75000 and will ratchet to $100000 and $125000 as the portfolio sells. The other images in the show are priced as follows:

Gene Lemuel: $3500 each, with set of 9 for $22500
Glen Luchford: $7500 each for 20x24 prints, $15000 each for the 40x30 prints
Herb Ritts: either $8000 or $10000
Mary McCartney: $3000 to $4000
Peter Blake: $2500 to $4000

Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)

Transit Hub:
  • Feature/Interview: New York Times T Magazine (here)
The Kate Moss Portfolio and Other Stories
Through June 30th

Danziger Projects
527 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011

1 comment:

Sam Boetti said...

Moss has never been just a model or a muse. She's an artist-personage who collaborates brilliantly with other artists. This show is quite exceptional. I feel it's important to acknowledge that this exhibit is not about fashion, but about pictures.