ALBERT WATSON at ICP, February 2
January 13, 2011
Albert Watson ICP Spring Lecture Series
Who: World-renowned photographer Albert Watson
What: Watson opens the ICP Spring Lecture Series with an artist talk and slide show from his newest monographs, U.F.O. (Unified Fashion Objectives), a 40-year career retrospective, and Strip Search, a five-year two-volume study of Las Vegas. The ICP Photographers Lecture Series is designed to bring together ten distinguished photographers and artists from all aspects of the filed to present their work and share their ideas and concerns with the public.
Where: International Center of Photography, 1114 Avenue of the Americas at 43 Street, NY
When: Wednesday, 2 February 2011 Time: 7:00pm
Price: $15 at the door.
Directions: A/C/E/N/Q/R/1/2/3/7 to Times Square B/D/F/M to 42 Street
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 100 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.)
Albert also has created the photography for hundreds of successful ad campaigns for major companies, such as Prada, the Gap, IBM, Levi’s, Revlon and Chanel, and he has directed more than 200 TV commercials and shot dozens of posters for major Hollywood movies. All the while, Albert has spent much of his time working on personal projects, creating stunning images from his travels and interests, from Marrakech to Las Vegas to the Orkneys. Much of this work, along with his well-known portraits and fashion photographs, has been featured in museum and gallery shows worldwide. The photo industry bible, Photo District News, named Albert one of the 20 most influential photographers of all time.
Born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, Albert studied graphic design at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, and film and television at the Royal College of Art in London. Though blind in one eye since birth, Albert studied photography as part of his curriculum. In 1970, he moved to the United States with his wife, Elizabeth, who got a job as an elementary school teacher in Los Angeles, where Albert began shooting photos, mostly as a hobby.
Later that year, Albert was introduced to an art director at Max Factor, who offered him his first test session, from which the company bought two shots. Albert’s distinctive style eventually caught the attention of American and European fashion magazines such as Mademoiselle, GQ and Harper’s Bazaar, and he began commuting between Los Angeles and New York. In 1975, Albert won a Grammy Award for the photography on the cover of the Mason Profitt album “Come and Gone,” and in 1976, he landed his first job for Vogue. With his move to New York that same year, his career took off.
Despite the demands of his commissioned assignments, Albert devotes much of his time to extensive personal projects, and he has published three books: “Cyclops” (1994, Bulfinch Press); “Maroc” (1998, Rizzoli); and the retrospective “Albert Watson” (2007, Phaidon). In fall 2010, PQ Blackwell, in association with Abrams, will publish two new books, one on Las Vegas, “Strip Search,” and another on fashion, “UFO: Unified Fashion Objectives.”
In addition, many catalogs of Albert’s photographs have been published in conjunction with museum and gallery shows. Since 2004, Albert has had solo shows at the Museum of Modern Art in Milan, Italy; the KunstHausWien in Vienna, Austria; the City Art Centre in Edinburgh; the FotoMuseum in Antwerp, Belgium; the NRW Forum in Dusseldorf, Germany; and the Forma Galleria in Milan. Albert’s photographs have also been featured in many group shows at museums, including the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, the International Center of Photography in New York, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, Germany. His photographs are included in the permanent collections at the National Portrait Gallery and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Albert has always been a workaholic. The archives at his studio in Manhattan are filled with tens of thousands of images and negatives, on which world-famous magazines and companies can be read. His studio, also used as a personal gallery, is filled with extraordinarily large-format photographs taken in Las Vegas. At first glance these landscapes, interiors and portraits take the viewer by surprise with their soft, filtered range of colors. But even in his new creations, Albert stays true to himself. The photographs create an aura that takes the viewer into the image but simultaneously demands a reverent distance.
Albert’s visual language follows his own distinctive rules and concepts of quality. With their brilliance, urgency, even grandeur, his photographs stand out so clearly against the world of today’s images. His way of lighting subjects, especially the fetish objects and portraits, creates a nearly meditative atmosphere in the photographs.
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 sock. This single-minded commitment to perfection has made Albert one of the world’s most sought-after photographers.
Interpreting the power and evolution of photography, the International Center of Photography is a museum and school dedicated to the understanding and appreciation of photography. ICP creates programs of the highest quality to advance knowledge of the medium. These include exhibitions, collections, and education for the general public, members, students, and professionals in the field of photography. Photography occupies a vital and central place in contemporary culture; it reflects and influences social change, provides an historical record, is essential to visual communication and education, opens new opportunities for personal and aesthetic expression, has transformed popular culture, has revolutionized scientific research, and continually evolves to incorporate new technologies.
Since its founding in 1974 by Cornell Capa (1918–2008) in the historic Willard Straight House, ICP has presented over 500 exhibitions, bringing the work of more than 3,000 photographers and other artists to the public in one-person and group exhibitions and provided thousands of classes and workshops that have enriched tens of thousands of students. ICP was founded as an institution to keep the legacy of “Concerned Photography” alive and has seen enormous growth in its exhibitions, collections, education programs, and staff. All kinds of photography were included in this expansion.
In 1985, a satellite facility, ICP Midtown, was created to help accommodate this growth. The expanded galleries, at 1133 Avenue of the Americas and 43rd Street, were designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects for the display of photography and new media with state-of-the-art lighting, climate control systems, and digital presentation systems. The reopening of the 17,000- square-foot site in the fall of 2000 provided in one location the same gallery space as the two previous sites combined and became the headquarters of ICP’s public exhibitions programs. The new ICP also provided an expanded store and café.
The expansion of the School of the International Center of Photography in the fall of 2001 created an exciting Midtown campus diagonally across from the Museum in the Grace Building at 1114 Avenue of the Americas. Designed by the architecture firm Gensler, the new, 27,000-square-foot school facility doubled ICP’s teaching space and allowed ICP to expand both its programming and community outreach.