Albert Watson Shot Rock: The Photographer on His Photo of Michael Jackson

 © Albert Watson

By Albert Watson

This was the first and only time I worked with Michael Jackson. We were booked for a two-day shoot for the Invincible album cover and some inside photos. The shooting was divided into one day of portraits and one day of dance shots at my studio in New York.

I already owned a mirror rig that allowed me to adjust eight mirrors individually. And, of course, before Michael arrived, the mirrors and lighting were completely prepared on the set. To give Michael more flexibility (and to add a little fun) I gave him what was essentially a stripper's pole on a white Plexi stage. When he arrived on the set, Michael spent two or three minutes stretching and then started dancing in front of the mirrors to "Billie Jean," which we played over the studio stereo system. Because of the set-up and the preparation, it was hard not to get some magical shots in almost every frame during the roughly 30 minutes he danced in front of the camera. This was Michael Jackson dancing, after all. How could you go wrong?

I found Michael charming, cooperative, totally professional, and a pleasure to deal with. The shooting was actually quite easy. After seeing the contact sheets from the shoot, the final print was essentially one gigantic contact sheet. From far away, the print looks almost like a piece of wallpaper, but close up, it gives you a very good idea of the entire shooting, and the charisma and power of Michael's dancing."

See more of Albert's images in Who Shot Rock & Roll, showing at the Annenberg Space for Photography through October 21, 2012. Learn more about him on his website at www.albertwatson.net.

Model Sylvia Gobbel On Working With Helmut Newton

Self-Portrait with Wife and Models, Vogue Studios, Paris 1981

©Estate of Helmut Newton

By Sylvia Gobbel

The first time I met Helmut Newton was when my agency sent me to a casting call for French Vogue for the haute couture summer collections which were shot by Helmut Newton. I was 19 and had been in Paris for just two weeks. A long line of beautiful models was waiting to be recieved by the master and suddenly Helmut stood up, looked at me and asked me to step forward….He interviewed me about my origins and since I’m Austrian, we started to speak German immediatly together. Helmut spoke a very fine and charming upperclass German from Berlin, which pleased my ear.

He told me that he would love to shoot the haute couture French Vogue with me but was much more interested in seeing if I would like to shoot some nudes for his next book. I had never posed nude before, but, since I loved his work, I accepted right away.

Helmut was tired that day; he just had his third heart attack and he was in convalescents.

Soon we shot for French Vogue and, a few days after, our first nude titled Sylvia In My Studio. At that time Helmut still had his studio in Paris (rue de L’Abbé de l’Epée), where he was living with his wife June. After makeup and hair, just so I wouldn’t be embarrassed in front of everyone, Helmut sent everybody else home. The only person who remained with us was June, who made the shoot really comfortable for me.

June and Helmut were the most loving couple I’ve ever met. Such a complicity, so much sense of humor and tenderness…

We worked until late at night and we shot a great pic standing at the window, while it was dark outside….I had to wear very high heel shoes, such as Louboutins, but in the eighties you only could find those kind of shoes in Pigalle, the shopping and working area for prostitutes and transvestites. Helmut loved to go shopping in that neighborhood for his shoots, because he could find all kinds of strange accessories for his work.

After that first shoot I had the chance to work with Helmut quite a bit. I was his muse for a few years…You can see many of the nudes that we did together at Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes, currently at the Annenberg Space for Photography. I also had the chance to be on the cover of his book, Big Nudes (published in 1981) which he dedicated to me. We shot lots of campaigns together such as VERSACE POMELLATO AMICA..etc. I lost contact with Helmut once I stopped working as a model. My biggest regret is that I didn’t meet him one last time to thank him for everything he did for me.

Images of Sylvia Gobbel modeling for Helmut Newton can be seen in Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes. For more information about Gobbel, please see her official website here.

 

A 'Who Shot Rock & Roll' Street Banner In Your Living Room?

Or your dining room. Or where ever you want really because one of those street banners can be yours to own and do with however you want!

For a limited time, we are offering all four variations of the vinyl banners for sale. You can choose from Florence Welch of Florence & the Machine, Kurt Cobain or Tina Turner. Our John Lennon banners are already completely sold out. Don't worry - even though they've been hanging out in the clean LA air over the last few months, they'll be professionally cleaned when you receive them.

Click here for more information on how to get one.

Helmut Newton Exhibit Opening Celebration

Last night the Photography Space feted famed photographer Helmut Newton and the launch of our latest show, Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes. The opening exhibit gala featured friends of the legendary photographer as well those who admire him and his work. Click "read more" to see some great photos from the party.


Supermodel Cindy Crawford, with her husband Rande Gerber, admire the photographs at the Photography Space.


Exhibt guest curator Manfred Heiting, co-owner of the Fahey/Klein Gallery, David Fahey, with the "Three Boys from Pasadena," George Holz, Just Loomis and Mark Arbeit.


Model and actress Nastassja Kinski, who posed for Newton in the 1980s.


Actor James Caan with Newton friend, film producer Robert Evans.


Actress/singer Mandy Moore with film and television star Minka Kelly pose in front of one of Newton's photos, which is also one of the images used in the exhibit's street banner campaign.


A group of partygoers enjoy the gala.


DJ Mathieu Schreyer entertained the crowd the entire evening.


Heiting with Annenberg Foundation Vice President and Director Charles Weingarten and Annenberg Foundation Executive Director Leonard Aube.
 


Photographer Neil Leifer with Pat Lanza, Director of Talent and Content for the Annenberg Space for Photography.


Crawford and Gerber take a break from the festivities to strike a pose.


Actress Bella Heathcote at the gala.


What a wonderful way to toast Helmut Newton and his legendary work! Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes opens to the public tomorrow and will show for a limited time until September 8, 2013.

Photos by Chris Weeks and Unique Nicole for the Space.

The Final Countdown Starts Today

With The Doors song "The End" playing in our heads, we're sad to announce that this coming weekend is your last chance to see Who Shot Rock & Roll as the show will come to a close this Sunday, October 21.

But you're in luck as The Final Countdown begins today! What this means is that we will offer extended evening hours so to accomodate as many of you as we can during the last few days of the shot.

As a reminder, The Final Countdown hours will be:

Thursday, October 18, 10am - 10pm (please note that part of the exhibit will be closed from 5pm-8pm for a lecture)
Friday, October 19, 10am - Midnight
Saturday, October 20, 10am - Midnight
Sunday, October 21, 11am - 6pm

Yes, you saw that right - we're open until midnight on Friday & Saturday!

In conjunction with The Final Countdown, several cafes in Century Park (that's name of the park in Century City in which we're located) will be extending their hours:

Cuvée: Open until 10pm on Thursday & Friday; 11:30am - 7pm on Saturday
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: Open until 8pm on Thursday & Friday

Also, during the extended evening hours on Thursday, Friday & Saturday, enter to win special prize drawings.

Don't wait because come Sunday at 6pm, our doors will close until November 17 so we can prepare for our next exhibit, no strangers.

Douglas Bergeron On Helmut Newton's 'Rue Aubriot'


© Estate of Helmut Newton

Last month we presented you the point of view of the above photo (Rue Aubriot) by Helmut Newton from the very model featured in the famous image: Vibeke Knudsen. Today, we bring you the perspective from Knuden's husband, Douglas Bergeron, who is a writer, art historian and art collector.

By Douglas Bergeron

Helmut Newton’s black & white photo, Rue Aubriot, represents the extension of a long artistic tradition dedicated to showing femmes fatales, erotic vampires and alluring denizens of the Paris night. Charles Baudelaire’s spirit curls around the German photographers tableau, where we see echoes of Nadar’s early monochrome photos of great poets & artists. However, it is Brassai’s photographic depictions of his venuses of the crossroads- pictures of Parisian street walkers taken in the early 1930s, which are most often mentioned as an influence on Newton’s work.

In Rue Aubriot, Vibeke Knudsen wears a pinstripped suit (Le Smoking) designed by Yves Saint Laurent. She holds a cigarette with her hair slicked back. The model recalls the androgynous music hall performers of the Weimer republic seen in Otto Dix’s paintings of the period. Newton’s famous photo has been reproduced so many times that it has become an icon in his oeuvre, & like many icons, the image has found a meaning of its own that is decoupled from the influences that may have inspired it.

Androgyny. Woman’s lib. The power of branding: Vibeke’s elegant YSL pant suit can be seen as a symbol of woman’s empowerment & her androgynous appearance illustrates the new norm of contemporary culture. Label:  Today’s heroines must follow a necessary ritual. They wrap themselves in designer names that amplify their power. These names are muttered like an open sesame, an incantation that gives them access to the red carpet.

Perhaps the power of Newton’s photo lies in its classical simplicity, which is highlighted by the subtle gradations of its black and white palette. The modern fashion photograph has become the repository of those classical traditions of posing spawned by early Greek sculpture, traditions that were repeated through the Renaissance and well into the 19th Century. It is on the pages of today’s fashion magazines that our ideals of beauty are preserved and promoted - frozen in poses as old as the Elgin marbles. The classical purity of Newton’s night composition, made on the Rue Aubriot, is etched with a clarity that makes his model much more than just a sophisticated hanger for a fine suit of clothes. Vibeke Knudsen’s still pose and sharp, frozen, silhouette takes her outside the moving processes of time. Rue Aubroit’s streetlamps crystallize Vibeke’s image, transforming her into a dark angel of light that somehow remains beyond our reach.

But Newton’s photo has also made his model part of a famous troop of artfully rendered beauties. Rue Aubroit now hangs amongst a time-honored collection of well-known portraits devoted to those alluring queens of seduction that have decorated the Parisian night.  Rue Aubriot both captures and transcends the spirit of a decade and has become one of the perfect instants of contemporary, post-modern visual mythology. Helmut Newton’s photo will linger in our collective memory for many generations to come.

See this image and over 100 others at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes.

Helmut Newton On His Winter Home In L.A.

In his autobiography, titled simply enough Autobiography, Helmut Newton‬ wrote about his love of Los Angeles and the famed Chateau Marmont, his winter home for many years.

He wrote: "I Love my winters in the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, where June and I have stayed for the last 26 years. I have this fascination for familiar surroundings...The 'Domestic Nudes' series began by my wanting to photograph rooms of the Chateau Marmont that I know so well, but who would look at pictures of empty rooms? So I added naked women."

The above image, taken by co-owner of the Fahey/Klein Gallery and long-time friend of the Newtons, David Fahey, is part of our outdoor exhibit.

Presenting The 'War/Photography' Video Trailer

Our next exhibit, WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath, debuts next month. The show, organized by The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, will include over 150 images that present both the military and civilian point of view of war. Mark your calendars - WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY opens Saturday, March 23, 2013 Watch the video teaser for the exhibit above.

Coming This Fall: National Geographic


Top photo: Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea
Photo by Joel Sartore © 2008 National Geographic

National Geographic is experiencing a landmark birthday this year and we're helping them celebrate.

Coming to the Photography Space this October 26 is our exciting next exhibit: The Power of Photography: National Geographic 125 Years. Organized in collaboration with National Geographic magazine, the show celebrates the iconic publication’s 125 year anniversary. From iconic images to portraits; landscapes to natural history, the exhibit will offer a wide range of photographic genres and themes free to the public in a special print and digital exhibition that will include two documentaries. National Geographic magazine is the official journal of the National Geographic Society.

The curation and installation of The Power of Photography departs from previous Photography Space exhibit designs. Mosaics of more than 400 images documenting the history of National Geographic photography from 1888 to the present time will adorn the walls. In addition, an extensive digital installation will showcase 500-plus images. Thirty professional-grade large format LED monitors will be arranged to create video walls throughout the Photography Space galleries. These six video walls, ranging from 12 to 14 feet in width, will present both individual images and photographic essays. Given the volume of photographs on the screens, and a format in which the images loop at different times throughout the galleries, the viewing experience will be unique to each visitor and each visit.

The exhibit will feature an original documentary commissioned by the Annenberg Space for Photography and produced by Arclight Productions that profiles six renowned photographers whose work appears in the October National Geographic issue: Lynsey Addario, Marcus Bleasdale, David Guttenfelder, Abelardo Morell, Joel Sartore and Martin Schoeller. In addition, the Photography Space will also screen a short compilation video comprised of photographers talking about the power of photography and what inspires their work. This compilation will be complemented by a series of longer video interviews with 20 photographers represented in the exhibit and a loop of milestone content videos created over the past several years for the magazine’s digital edition.

The Power of Photography: National Geographic 125 Years opens October 26, 2013 and runs through April 27, 2014. 

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