This is the follow up post to the first Sartorialist post. I went thursday to see the prints before the Jurgen Teller opening.
I remember going to see a show many years back of Patrick Demarchelier’s work. It was really awful. Beautiful prints of beautiful people shot beautifully. Stripped of their magazine setting, it was completely coma-inducing. Sometimes that happens, the work is made for a context and and cannot function outside of that. Something similar is happening here, although I feel much more protective of the Sartorialist in this example than Demarchelier. In other words I would rather see the Sartorialist succeed than see PD get his gallery rocks off.
What to say? The things I like; I like that the prints were a nice smallish size, I thought it was a good choice not to try to make these heroic prints you see everywhere. There was another gentleman in the gallery at the time and he was pressed up pretty close to them looking at the details. Small prints can create a kind of intimacy between the work and the viewer. Trouble is there was not much connection to be found. I really got no sense of the people in the photographs, somewhat as I had expected. My impression is that the web is good enough to convey what this work conveys, a sense of style in an instant. And the web is actually better in another way, the fact of the comments and community around the work feels much more interesting than seeing a collection of average prints in a white gallery space.
About the prints, they were fine, suffered a little oversharpening, a little of that digital thing were primary colors were oversaturated relative to everything else. As a group they looked cohesive which tells me a very good printer spent some time getting them all together.
On the way out I overheard a group going in and one said “ok, so the thing is, these are real people..” as an introduction to the show. I think now in photography we have come to expect that what we see is not real on some level, either from retouching or styling or the endless repetition of stars and famous people, the idea of photographing real people is somehow now exotic, and the exotic now commonplace. I did not have the heart to stop and explain that many of those folks were fashion editors and stylists. Certainly real but not “real.”
I wish there was more to say about “the work” but it was not the kind of thing where I come out of the gallery and feel really motivated to go out and take pictures. That is my benchmark when I see a show or a book, how juiced it gets me to want to do my own thing. Certainly others might feel motivated.
I’m going to conclude in a way that perhaps most of you do not expect. I think that overall the Sartorialist, hyperbole aside, is creating a wonderful thing if you just stick to what it is-a fascination with the details of style and dress and manner. Clearly he loves these things, and the people too. I would love to see more of that, more of his affection, more humour perhaps, more attention to the emotional moment. There is always somewhere to go. The invented can become authentic.
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