Shooting Stars: Three (Plus) Photographers, Two Exhibits, One Book

Above: Julianne Moore by Diego Uchitel

As Instagram has democratized “photography” to a depressing level, with pop stars posting endless selfies of themselves eating pancakes and cuddling with their cats, it’s particularly urgent to remember that capturing the perfect image is, underneath it all, still a highly specialized art. And over the last half-century, a select few exalted shutterbugs have masterfully utilized their cameras to take us much more deeply into the volatile psyches of the famous and the infamous.

Two exhibitions opening this week in New York and LA, and one new book that has just hit the shelves, will go a long way to reminding us of the particular visual genius of several of those most celebrated photographers, including Masayoshi Sukita, Diego Uchitel and Ernie Paniccioli. Here are the details on each.

Eye Contact

Equity Gallery, New York City

Want to check out Lil’ Kim channeling Joan of Arc, shortly after her 2005 conviction on perjury charges in a New York court? It’s just one of the many fascinations of this Lower East Side exhibition, opening July 13. It gathers the works of Tim Bret-Day, Phil Knott, Derrick Santini (all Brits) and Ernie Paniccioli, the latter considered as probably the greatest hip-hop chronicler ever.

Presented by VaultWorks, who are dedicated to preserving such vital archival works, it presents thrilling images of such towering icons as David Bowie, Grace Jones, DMX, Jay-Z, Mick Jagger, The Strokes and the recently disbanded Daft Punk. Snaps by Phil Knott from Amy Winehouse’s first ever photo session in 2003 are sure to inspire more than a few tears for the tragic songstress, who died of alcohol poisoning almost ten years ago to this day.

For his part, Paniccioli recalls shooting, “Lauryn Hill as a Princess, Snoop as almost demonic, Busta [Rhymes] just as he was about to explode before an audience of 22,000 fans, and Grandmaster Flash doing what he does best: DJing. To me, each was compelling in their own complex ways.”

Eye Contact will be on show at Equity Gallery through July 18, before traveling to Nashville (July 20-27), Los Angeles (October 7-10), and London sometime this autumn.

Grandmaster Flash and Lauryn Hill by Ernie Paniccioli

Diego Uchitel

House of Novogratz, Los Angeles

Argentine photographer Diego Uchitel has captured the ephemeral, the eternal, the bold and the beautiful aspects of fame, often revealing something unexpected or provocative about his high-profile subjects. And with more than two decades behind the camera, the list of people he’s shot reads like a veritable Hollywood zeitgeist roll call, including Charlize Theron, Julianne Moore, Penelope Cruz, Quentin Tarantino, Sophia Coppola, Kerry Washington, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Sarah Jessica Parker… and between movie stars he’s even snapped unforgettable images of rock gods Lou Reed, Sting and David Bowie.

An eponymous new exhibition opens in Los Angeles this Friday, July 16 – at Venice’s House of Novogratz – gathering some highly prized, very limited editions of his work. Notably featured are large-size Polaroids which have been fascinatingly allowed to age gracefully, with their slightly worn condition giving them a kind of historical gravitas and unfussy cool.

“Polaroids can be the initial moment of the creative process,” Uchitel explains of his favored medium. [They] helped me find my voice as a photographer.”

The gallery / contemporary design retail space is overseen by celebrated interior designers Cortney and Robert Novogratz, of Bravo’s 9 by Design (they are friends and collectors of Uchitel), with the latter enthusing, “Diego’s work is different, of-the-moment, larger than life and most certainly unique. He’s known throughout the world for his portraiture of some of the world’s most celebrated pop culture icons, and we are thrilled to be offering an opportunity to see his Polaroid work in [such] an intimate setting.”

House of Novogratz is located at 1629 Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice.

Sofia Coppola by Diego Uchitel

Masayoshi Sukita, Eternity

ACC Art Books

It’s easy to forget now, in such a highly corporatized music industry…but back in the late ’60s and early ’70s, rock & roll was a dirty and dangerous outlaw business, in which the insalubrious behaviors of its major figures resulted in many an early demise. (Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, Moon, Bonham, Bolan…the list goes on). And Japanese photographer Masayoshi Sukita bravely and poignantly captured all the outrageous, and glorious mayhem of that time.

Most notably, he shot the decadent glam rock triumvirate of T. Rex, Iggy Pop and David Bowie – with his Ziggy Stardust era shots of the latter ultimately becoming some of the most exalted images in rock history. And a stunning new photo book, somewhat ambivalently titled Eternity (from ACC Art Books), reminds of his remarkable ability to capture something genuinely visceral about his always provocative subjects, from Ray Charles to Joe Strummer to Elvis Costello to legendary Japanese synth poppers YMO (Yellow Magic Orchestra).

But it was Bowie who arguably made the greatest impact on Sukita’s inimitable way of framing rock and pop culture.

He recalls, “One of the reasons why I was so inspired by seeing David for the first time was because he [was] not just a musician. He [was] also an artist and performer in the ‘underground.’ The way he acted on stage, his physical movement and ‘expression corporelle’ were very different from [any] other artists.”

And as the title of Sukita’s book reminds, those things will continue to live on in his images.

David Bowie by Masayoshi Sukita

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