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Albert Watson, Photographer Extraordinaire. Part 1: 3 Men and 3 Women

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This article is the work of Lloyd Rowsey and Laurel Steele.  

When I read that Albert Watson is one of the most successful fashion photographers of all time, I paused.  And I recalled all the articles of Protest Photography which I’ve posted at OEN.  And the narrative article I posted titled Photography Is Not Art.  But no one can judge or appreciate visual works by reading words.  And what a treat it was for a person with radical politics such as I have, to peruse the more than 200 Albert Watson photographs collected at artnet’s Artist Work Catalogues. 

There, the long introduction to the photographs by Watson begins and ends with the two following paragraphs: 

“Albert Watson has made his mark as one of the world’s most successful fashion and commercial photographers during the last four decades, while creating his own art along the way. Over the years, his striking images have appeared on more than 250 covers of Vogue around the world and been featured in countless other publications, from Rolling Stone to Time to Vibe - many of the photographs iconic portraits of rock stars, rappers, actors and other celebrities. (Albert was the official Royal Photographer for Prince Andrew’s wedding to Sarah Ferguson.)

Without a doubt, Albert Watson is an artist who greatly enriches our perception with his unique photographic view. Though the wide variety of his images reflects an effortless versatility, they are nevertheless identifiable as Albert Watson photographs by their sheer power and technical virtuosity - whether it’s a portrait of a Las Vegas dominatrix or a close-up of King Tutankhamen’s (glove).  This single-minded commitment to perfection has made Albert one of the world’s most sought-after photographers.”

And those two photographs?  They follow:

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[[BLVH2001]]

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And

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[[GTCM1990]]

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All six of the photographs which Laurel Steele and I decided were a “set” are black-and-whites.  Five of them Watson shot in the 1980’s, and the sixth was shot in 1993.  There follow Laurel’s comments on the photographs:

‘Probably the most amazing aspect of these portraits and all of Watson’s works is the depth of field captured by his one functioning eye. Monochromatic, black and white with all the shades between, is the classic media for focusing the eye and emphasizing contrasts.  Yet Watson is distinct from other classic artists.  He breaks the rules on lights and darks.’

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[[CENY1986]]

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And

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[[MTCNY]]

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And

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[[KRNY1989]]

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‘First the three men.  Eastwood staring from the dark, steel-eyed strength, the icon. For each of the three images differently, the pattern of hair on the arm, the sheen of sweat and oil on skin; but each head captures the eyes of the viewer with details and textures.  Dark tones with only dots of white to glint the eyes or to highlight the hair, heavy to emphasize the power, the strength, and the hard living.  These images offer no hint of softness but the viewer could reach out to touch the clenched jaw, capture the drifting smoke, or alter the course of salted sweat.  Watson hints at so much emotion with his darks and lights. But for each, the viewer longs to touch.’

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[[KMM1993]]

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And

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[[LYYL1989]]

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And

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[[NCPS1989]]

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‘Then, the three women.  Sepia, the timeless media, captures the feminine flow of lines.  Here the dark is left and light reigns.   The boundaries fade as Moss blends with her neutral sheet.  Her hand, toes, and knee blend with the same tonal neutrality as the cloth like the earth’s daughter forming from the sands. Her hair and face provide the most contrast, cast with melancholy, wistful sorrow.   

Clothe Leslie, and cage the flesh in a phallic blend of white and black.  Paint the face in the hint of artificial colors, bind back the hair, and drop the hands in passive compliance.

Campbell blends dark and light, silken skin, extended neck and lips into the shadow.  So many ambiguous hints, the sensual curve of the back and hand, the androgynous shaved head, the soft gathered robe and the strong defined edge of her darken profile. . . so many contrasts.'

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(The words in double quotation marks and all the images are courtesy of the artist and of artnet’s Artist Works Catalogues.  At its AWC, there is this: “artnet offers these catalogues free to the public as an educational resource. Simply click on an individual artist's image to begin, and check back often to browse new catalogues.”)  

 

I have a law degree (Stanford, 66') but have never practiced. Instead, from 1967 through 1977, I tried to contribute to the revolution in America. As unsuccessful as everyone else over that decade, in 1978 I went to work for the U.S. Forest (more...)
 
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Looking at Moss on the sheet: why does the edge of... by sometimes blinded on Wednesday, Apr 1, 2009 at 8:02:14 AM
My question has to do with the artistic meaning of... by sometimes blinded on Wednesday, Apr 1, 2009 at 5:11:34 PM
thank you!... by Meryl Ann Butler on Wednesday, Apr 1, 2009 at 12:21:53 PM
Actually...I wasn't looking at the sheet.... by Allan Wayne on Wednesday, Apr 1, 2009 at 8:17:23 PM
Would you write her a ticket? . . . There are no f... by sometimes blinded on Wednesday, Apr 1, 2009 at 11:07:51 PM
I noticed it too. For me, it detracts from the ove... by John Little on Saturday, Apr 4, 2009 at 12:16:05 AM
Actually...I wasn't looking at the sheet.... by Allan Wayne on Wednesday, Apr 1, 2009 at 8:18:15 PM