The small feeling of the exhibition stems from its layout, in which rows of photographs — alternating between pairs and individual images — are arranged facing each other along a hallway that leads to NorthPark’s central gardens. This exhibition is a fitting complement to the larger collection, as it takes viewers "behind the lens.” But rather than peering into Weber’s own life, it shows you the lives of other artists like himself.
Weber is best known for his work as an editorial photographer for magazines including Vogueand GQ, but he also did a lot to define brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein through his fresh, provocative ad campaigns.
Although it may be easy to overlook the works shown at NorthPark in favor of the sexier and more fashionable editorial works in Far From Home, and the easily recognized faces hanging there, Weber still manages to draw viewers in with his use of color and movement to evoke the overall feeling of each piece.
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This is particularly true with his 2005 portrait of New York City bad boy artists Ryan McGinley and the late Dash Snow. It's one of the most memorable portraits on view. The two are captured riding a camel down Broome Street, tangled in a bro hug with the Viking-esque Snow modeling a sort of Medieval helmet and the older, but younger looking, McGinley grinning at the camera.
The two young artists emanate cheer and brazenness, as does the photo. The same feeling is captured by other famous works by Weber, including his portraits of Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Iman. Looking at these photos is like peering into a place in time, a memory. They invite viewers to imagine each artist’s personal lifestyle. Weber also manages to portray each artist in his or her native environment, whether the art studio, or in the case of Snow and McGinley, the streets of their hometown.
Weber's 1993 portrait of Richard Avedon, also a famous fashion photographer, shows him photographing a parade of military officers. It's an unexpected scene if you only know Avedon for his fashion editorials. Here the exhibition presents itself as two-fold. On the one hand the viewer gets to experience another side of Weber’s work — a more intimate connection between him and the subject, artist to artist. On the other, the viewer is opened up to a world of new artists that they may never have heard of, or they learn something new about an artist they already love.
Bruce Weber's work will remain up at NorthPark through April 16, 2017. The Dallas Contemporary show closes Dec. 18. For more info, visit northparkcenter.com and dallascontemporary.org.
Why does travel make such a good backdrop for fashion photography? Because it makes you look at the clothes in a new way. I was once in Nebraska for British Vogue, and one of the favorite pictures I did was of a young girl against a blue sky. You didn’t really see any landscape, didn’t really see any of Nebraska, but you could really feel it in the picture. And that model was so filled with that same strength of the women who pioneered the West so long ago. Sometimes you go to a location, show nothing of the place, and yet it’s still very much there.
Where was your favorite place that you did a shoot? Sweden. The people are so generous. Walking on the streets, if you ask someone to take their picture, they say, “Yes, thank you very much.” It’s very different from New York, where people yell at you, then hand you a bill for $2,000 to shoot on their sidewalk.
And your least favorite place? I don’t think I’ve ever hated a place. But there have been places I’ve revisited that changed, and I didn’t like it as much as I did. I used to go to Jamaica as a kid growing up and we loved it. But then the last time I went there, there were so many machine guns and bodyguards, and that made me very sad.
How do you think Instagram has changed photography? I just started an Instagram account! I also have a Facebook [account], but I don’t even know how to get on it. The only reason I like Instagram is I get to share with my friends where I am. Though I would never book a girl or a guy just because of the number of followers on their Instagram. But anything to encourage people to take pictures instead of shooting a gun, I think, is just great.
Renowned Photographer Bruce Weber on Why Photography Is a Tool for Democracy
Over the course of his career spanning nearly five decades, Bruce Weber has documented the likes of Jane Goodall, Kate Moss, and David Bowie. He’s also pushed boundaries with his progressive fashion campaigns, noting that he’s “very lucky” to have been able to work nearly every day doing what he loves.
Starting this Saturday, the Dallas Contemporary will show the largest exhibition of Weber’s work to date, with more than 250 photographs, some of which have never been shown before. Ahead of the opening, TIME spoke to Weber to discuss his body of work, what inspires him, and why capturing a good photo is like “showing your crushes to the world.”
Click through the slideshow above to see exclusive images from his new exhibit, Far From Home.
TIME: What inspires you daily? What’s encouraging you to keep taking photos after nearly 50 years in the industry?
Bruce Weber: When I came to New York, I got to know Allen Ginsberg, and he was in his 70s then and he was like the youngest person I ever knew. So then I thought, it’s kind of wonderful to be like that. I would say that my dogs — I have six golden retrievers — are a constant inspiration to me. The way they see the world and the way they are with people, their openness, I always want to try to have that when I take pictures or when I don’t.
Why do you work in black and white primarily?
Sometimes, with black and white you can explore things a little more. But I like them [b&w and color] both equally. I still shoot film and some of the emulsions in color have changed a lot. For instance, when I first started shooting, I shot in Kodachrome 25 and it was the most gorgeous emulsion. I remember when I had some of it, could afford to buy the film, I just loved using it. I would never use black and white, I would always use Kodachrome 25.
Speaking of that, you still shoot in film, but I noticed that you have an Instagram; how do you feel about the way that social media is changing the way that we consume images? It’s also interesting to see the way that it’s shaping the fashion industry, how people are being casted and booked for shoots.
I feel really nice that people look at my Instagram, very flattered, but I would never book a girl or a guy for a job based on just how many Instagram hits they have. Kind of like to know if they’ve got some soul still! I do feel encouraged however by anything that makes people want to go out and take pictures. I’ve always felt that photography is kind of a tool of democracy.
Is there anyone that you haven’t photographed or worked with yet that you would like to shoot?
I kind of was chasing Jane Goodall around for a while because I really admire her and then I got to know her and photograph her a couple times and I even got to photograph her with all my six dogs. That was a real thrill. Everyday I meet people I want to photograph. I never get bored finding a person or somebody to shoot. They don’t have to be a big film star or a rock or pop star for me to want to photograph them. Sometimes, when I’m traveling around, which is what this exhibition is primarily about, I end up photographing people I just met or people that I had a crush on. Isn’t photography a little bit about getting to show your crushes to the world, whether it’s a tree or a girl or a guy or an animal?
Your photos have always been very unapologetic about sexuality, which was a little controversial when you first started. What motivated you to continue to maintain this element in your work, even after you were criticized?
I was pretty shy and I felt that it was sort of a nice way to explore myself and get to know myself better. I never felt that a lot of pictures that people thought were sexual were — I thought they were kind of square, so maybe it shows you where my life was at so to speak.
We recently talked to Peter Lindbergh about this year’s Pirelli calendar. He brought up your work, and said you enjoy shooting men more than he does. A lot of the photos you’re known for have centered around male bodies; is there a reason why those are the images you create?
You know it’s funny; when I take a picture of a guy, I’m really thrilled if a girl or guy says to me, “Wow, I wish that guy was my boyfriend” or “I wish I knew that guy,” that’s really a nice feeling. When I started, there weren’t a lot of guys’ photographs in the world and people never really gave guys compliments or the attention that you give a girl, and so I thought maybe it’s a way for me to show the attention that I didn’t get, some of my friends didn’t get growing up, so it’s kind of nice that guys get attention once in a while.
One of the images that I found really striking from your exhibit shows Kate Moss wearing a gown in a field with what appears to be a farm worker next to her. Does it ever feel voyeuristic to be shooting people and their culture alongside models for a fashion editorial or campaign?
That’s a really good question and one that I take really seriously. When I went to Vietnam — that’s where the photograph was taken, I went there for Vogue – and I really had a problem about going there in that way, even just as a photographer, not because I was working for a fashion magazine. So when we all first stopped there, I went to an orphanage that Christina Noble had, that was built by the Kennedy family and I read a book that Christina had written about the orphans after the war. Anyways, we came there and it really helped me to be able to connect Kate and the children and we were there with the most beautiful children; we got closer to the people in a very human way. You know, now, when I go to a country, I try to be a little more responsible and not show a $10k dress in a country where they don’t have clean water to drink.
How does it feel to look back at such an expansive body of work?
I look at it for the experiences that I have had and I look at it so I can make my pictures better, so I can get close to being able to share the experience I had, that moment, the people that I’m photographing and the people that are close to me. I always felt that I took pictures for somebody in my family or somebody I was in love with.
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Write to Cady Lang at [email protected]
Lonneke Engel for Versus, 1996, gracefully shot by Bruce Weber
Bruce Weber, a noted fashion photographer with a long and distinguished career, is having a retrospective exhibition at the Dallas Contemporary. It is fascinating for many reasons, but first of all because an exhibition venue known mainly for installations and projections has dedicated almost its entire gigantic space to a solo show of this kind of “traditional” photography. But also – and especially – because it offers an unusual view of fashion photography as it is.
Portrayed on this photo is the aunt of one of Weber’s friends. Made during a personal visit.
It’s rather difficult to organize a fashion (almost fashion) photography show in such a space. And the museum fills it up perfectly using different formats of the prints, an interrupted line of the installation, niches with subthemes that develop conversations among the images. But the main difficulty is this: how do you justify an exhibition for this type of photography that is normally intended to be published or used in commercials or some other sorts of display? It’s an ideological question that forces a revisit of the issue of where photography is today, how it has changed and what fashion photography is at this point. If it is something at the junction of design, marketing and, yes, art, what does change as we revisit it now?
The combination of black & white and color feels a bit weird before the dialog between these clashing forms is actually noticed.
In Bruce Weber’s case, the exhibition celebrates his long career but also focuses on the borderline between fashion and non-fashion and explores it while discovering something new. Many images included are well known from his campaigns, but others have never been published or publicly shown. They are images made in the same places and often on the same occasions as his famous photoshoots. The effect is almost like looking at contact sheets and discovering the full creative vision of his photography in a creative process, through the sequence of what came before and after. When both types of images are juxtaposed, they acquire a new tone, a little confusing and certainly ironic in relation to fashion as a mentality and practice. It is easier to understand his worldview and creative approach in a complete and a bit uncanny vision.
Notice the advertising branded t-shirt the boy behind the couple is wearing, by Parmalat (the milk processing company)
The exhibition deserves to be seen also as a revisit of the controversies caused by Weber’s works. Most of them are related to the provocative way he reveal the male body, with a gaze that was reserved for the female body up to that point. Today those controversies are moot. His view of masculinity is not scandalous at all. It may mean that the way we look has changed because of him and if so, we should recognize it. But the sensibility with which he shows masculinity, obviously originating centuries before but offered by him in a new context, has stayed impactful these 40 years later.
Contemporary bruce weber dallas
Firstly, we won't tell you that we will beat you. An ominous grin appeared on Snot's face. And secondly, who would believe her, moron. She came to us here, we kicked her out, and she fantasized dick knows what. Well, we'll buy ice cream for her there, or we'll give her a ruble.Mia Wasikowska by Bruce Weber - British Vogue
Or put it where. Go, look, said Bear. - Exactly.
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Whip a strap on my sweet ass. Not a damn thing she was not shy. Sergei Petrovich decided to be satisfied with what was said and continued: - Everything is correct, only not with a belt, but with a rod. To make it more painful.