American photographer Bruce Weber is one of those rare artists whose vision comes to define an epoch. His photographs for fashion houses such as Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren during the 1980s and 1990s were extraordinary examples of fashion photography as high art and have become some of the most iconic images of the late 20th century.
Weber initially studied theatre at Denison University, Ohio before beginning to take photographs when studying film at New York University in the 1960s. Initially he met with little interest, but after a chance meeting in Greenwich Village with Diane Arbus, the doyenne of New York street photography became a great advocate of his work. Arbus introduced Weber to the New School for Social Research where he trained under Arbus’s own teacher, the Austrian-born photographer, Lisette Model.
By the late 1970s, Weber had developed a photographic aesthetic that would propel him into the international limelight. It was a unique vision of America, brimming with a timeless innocence and an overt eroticism, and inflected with an early-20th-century black-and-white romance. By the 1980s it had become the enduring public face of Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.
Weber brought a loose, lo-fi documentary approach to fashion shoots. The world he created was highly nostalgic and personal, an American idyll of romantic grittiness and sun-drenched summer days charged with the beauty and sexuality of mythical youth.
Through images such as his portraits of the young Richard Gere or his controversial Marcus Schenkenberg shoot for Calvin Klein in 1991, Weber has gained a worldwide reputation as one of the most important artists of his generation. More than 15 monographs of his work have been published. His photographs have appeared in Vanity Fair, Vogue and GQ among many other publications, and are in the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Museum of Modern Art in Paris.
His film work includes the stunning, Oscar-nominated documentary Let’s Get Lost – a moving portrait of the turbulent life of jazz legend, Chet Baker.
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