Albert Watson

Albert Watson a d’ores et déjà laissé son empreinte en tant que l’un des photographes les plus prolifiques et marquants du monde. Traçant une transversale unique entre photographie de mode, commerciale et artistique, les images créées par Watson sont aujourd’hui des icones connues de tous. Des portraits de Jack Nicholson à Steve Jobs en passant par Kate Moss, des paysages désertiques de Las Vegas  aux artefacts de Toutankhamon, la diversité de son portfolio est sans précédent. Ses photographies, qu’il prend soin de développer lui-même, sont présentes dans les galeries et musées à travers le monde. Photo District News, considéré comme le magazine de référence pour tous les professionnels de l’image, place Albert Watson parmi les vingt photographes les plus influents aux côtés notamment d’Irving Penn et Richard Avedon.

Bien que non-voyant d’un œil depuis sa naissance en 1942 à Edimbourg, en Ecosse, Albert Watson s’initie à la photographie dans le cadre de ses études au Jordanstone College d’Art et Design (Dundee), avant d’intégrer le Royal College of Art de Londres.  En 1970, Watson s’installe à Los Angeles avec son épouse, où il s’adonne à cet art en dilettante avant de se faire remarquer par le directeur artistique de Max Factor, qui lui propose alors ses premiers shootings. Son style distinctif sera remarqué par les magazines américains et européens tells que Mademoiselle, GQ, et Harper’s Bazaar, qui lui propose alors une séance avec Alfred Hitchcock en 1973; ce dernier sera la première d’une longue liste de célébrités à passer devant l’objectif de Watson. En effet, il décroche trois ans plus tard un emploi à Vogue et déménage alors à New York, ce qui marquera le début de sa carrière.

Il compte depuis plus d’une centaine de photos parues en couverture de Vogue ainsi que d’innombrables parutions dans des magazines tels que Rolling Stones ou Harper’s Bazaar, dont une majorité de photos de mode et de portraits de rock stars, rappeurs, acteurs et autres célébrités. Il est aussi à l’origine de centaines de campagnes publicitaires pour des compagnies telles que Prada, Gap, Levi’s, Revlon, ou encore Chanel, mais aussi pour une douzaine de films (« Mémoires d’une Geisha », « Kill Bill », etc.) et a dirigé plus d’une centaine de publicités télévisées.

Parallèlement à ses activités commerciales, Watson a toujours consacré une partie de sa création à des projets artistiques destinés à être exposés dans les musées et galeries d’art. Ces images sont le reflet de ses voyages et intérêts personnels. Qu’il s’agisse d’un charmeur de serpents Marocain, d’un ouvrier Béninois, d’une dominatrice de Las Vegas ou des montagnes escarpées de l’île de Skye, chacune exhale un mélange intense de puissance, de tension et de poésie.

Depuis 2004, son œuvre fut l’objet d’exposition individuelle au Musée d’Art Moderne de Milan Italie, au KunstHaus de Vienne, Autriche, au City Art Center d’Edimbourg, GB, au FotoMuseum d’Anvers, Belgique, à Fotografiska à Stockholm, Suède, ainsi qu’au Multimedia Art Museum de Moscou, Russie.  Cette impressionnant parcours a été récompensé par un Lucie Award, un Grammy Award, trois Andys, un Der Steiger Award, un Hasselblad Masters Award ainsi qu’une Century Medal, prix d’excellence décerné par la Royal Photographic Society soulignant l’ensemble de son œuvre. Enfin, il fut Fait Membre de l'Ordre de l'Empire britannique (OBE) par Sa Majesté Elizabeth II pour sa contribution active à la photographie d’art.

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Albert Watson has made his mark as one of the world’s most successful and prolific photographers since he began his career in 1970, blending art, fashion and commercial photography into some of the most iconic images ever seen. From portraits of Alfred Hitchcock and Steve Jobs, beauty shots of Kate Moss, to Las Vegas landscapes and still-life photographs of King Tutankhamen artifacts, Albert’s diversity and body of work are unparalleled.  His striking photographs and stunning hand-made prints are featured in galleries and museums around the globe. The photo industry bible, Photo District News, named Albert one of the 20 most influential photographers of all time, along with Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, among others.


Albert has won numerous honors, including a Lucie Award, a Grammy Award, three Andys, a Der Steiger Award, a Hasselblad Masters Award; and the Centenary Medal, a lifetime achievement award from the Royal Photographic Society. Queen Elizabeth II awarded the Scotsman an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in June 2015 for his lifetime contribution to the art of photography.


Over the years, Albert’s photographs have appeared on more than 100 covers of Vogue worldwide and been featured in countless other publications, from Rolling Stone to Time to Harper’s Bazaar _ many of the photos iconic fashion shots or portraits of rock stars, rappers, actors and other celebrities. Albert also has created the photography for hundreds of ad campaigns for major companies, such as Prada, the Gap, Levi’s, Revlon and Chanel. He has shot dozens of Hollywood movie posters, such as “Kill Bill” and “Memoirs of a Geisha,” and has also directed more than 100 television commercials.


All the while, Albert has spent much of his time working on art projects for museum and gallery exhibitions, which feature his well-known portraits and fashion photographs, along with powerful shots from his travels and interests, such as a snake charmer in Morocco, a dominatrix in Las Vegas or the dramatic mountains on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.


Albert has published five books: “Cyclops” (1994, Bullfinch); “Maroc” (Rizzoli, 1998); "Albert Watson” (Phaidon, 2007); "Strip Search" (PQ Blackwell/Chronicle 2010); and "UFO: Unified Fashion Objectives" (PQ Blackwell/Abrams 2010.) A new project with Taschen Books is due out in spring 2017. 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; the Forma Galleria in Milan; Fotografiska in Stockholm, Sweden; and the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow. A major retrospective, with a new body of work Albert shot in Benin, Africa, was held at the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, Germany, in 2013.


Albert’s photographs have also been featured in many group museum shows, including at 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. His photographs are included in the permanent collections at the National Portrait Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian, the Scottish Parliament, the Deichtorhallen, the Multimedia Art Museum, and the Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany, among others.


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 met 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, which booked him for a shoot with Alfred Hitchcock, the first celebrity Albert ever photographed. Soon after, Albert began commuting between Los Angeles and New York, and in 1975, he won a Grammy for the photography on the cover of the Mason Proffit album “Come and Gone.” In 1976, Albert landed his first job for Vogue, and with his move to New York that same year, his career took off.


Albert has always been a workaholic. The archives at his studio in Manhattan are filled with millions 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, many 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 shot of a forest in Scotland, a Yohji Yamamoto dress on a supermodel, a close-up of the spacesuit worn by Astronaut Alan Shepard on the moon, or the iconic black and white portrait of Steve Jobs. This single-minded commitment to perfection has made Albert one of the world’s most sought-after photographers.


 

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