How Designers Design: Nick Waplington Captures McQueen

With Alexander McQueen’s exhibition “Savage Beauty” now on show at the V&A Museum in London, there is a growing necessity to uncover the late designer’s creative process. Who could better capture the frenzy of a genius at work, than a relentless photographer following every move and recording even the tiniest, perhaps insignificant details for posterity? This was precisely the spirit with which the photographer Nick Waplington approached Alexander McQueen, taking a rich and revealing series of photographs while her was working on what would be his last collection, The Horn of Plenty, in 2009.

Waplington was given unprecedented access to McQueen’s studio, and captured an intense and theatrical working process, from sketching to production to the Paris catwalk show. McQueen conceived The Horn of Plenty collection as an iconoclastic retrospective of his career in fashion, reusing silhouettes and fabrics from his earlier collections, and creating a catwalk set out of broken mirrors and discarded elements from the sets of his past shows. This radical theme provided inspiration for Waplington, best known for his photographic work centred on issues of class, identity and conflict. Their artistic collaboration reveals a raw and unpolished side of the fashion world, juxtaposing candid images of McQueen’s working process with rigorously produced photographs of landfill sites and recycling plants, to create a powerful commentary on destruction and creative renewal.

The photobook that resulted from this collaboration is unlike anything of its kind. The book Waplington and McQueen worked on together, as well as a large maquette of the book, which they shared as they edited the work, is now on display together with a selection of around 100 large and small scale photographs at Tate Britain in London, within the exhibition “Nick Waplington/Alexander McQueen: Working Process”, running through May 17th 2015.

The Blogazine – Images courtesy of Nick Waplington and Tate Britain 
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Through the Lens of Claudine Doury

Claudine Doury is a photographer born in Blois and living in Paris. Through her work, collected in monographs such as Peuples de Sibérie, published in 1999, or Artek, un été en Crimée, published in 2004, Claudine captures the mutable, evolving yet slow passing of time in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with the willingness to capture a “time of mutations, searching for tracks of a vanishing empire” and to understand “the different people who lived there, where they came from and how they had been separated from each other, as the country was split into new regions and finally into states”. Her work is poetic and evocative of different times, grasping that particular type of nostalgia that is a longing for an ideal place, a home that never existed and perhaps never will.

Images courtesy of Claudine Doury 
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In the Books: Strange Plants II

Strange Plants II is the second book in a series that celebrates plants in contemporary art published by LA-based publishing house Zioxla. The book features the work of 30 artists, and explores what these artists think about plants and how they portray them in their work. It includes viscous paintings of drooping flower arrangements; intuitive photographs of lily pads and lithe bodies; mixed-media collages that juxtapose the tranquility of Japanese Ikebana with the chaotic energy of vandalism; and much more.

For the book, editor Zio Baritaux brought together several artists who take a unique approach to incorporating plants into their work: Allison Schulnik, Misha Hollenbach, Francesca DiMattio, Zin Taylor, Katarina Janeckova, Stills & Strokes and Ren Hang. Schulnik, for example, used her own garden as a character in one of her short films; Stills & Strokes projected colors and geometric shapes onto the leaves of plants in botanical gardens; and DiMattio filled the sculptures in her exhibition with dramatic and unruly flowers. Each artist’s work is accompanied by an insightful article or interview that delves deeper into the relationships between plants and people. Taylor talks about a wild jade plant he clipped at the Eames house in Santa Monica and smuggled back to Brussels, thus transporting the spirit of Charles and Ray
 to his own home. Hollenbach discusses observing a deciduous tree in his backyard as a way to teach his young daughter about the cycle of life. Janeckova, a Slovakian ex-pat who now lives in South Texas, explains how plants keep her company in her new homeland.

“The aim of Strange Plants II is to continue the compelling conversations about how we perceive and interpret both the bizarre and beautiful sides of art and nature,” editor Zio Baritaux says. “Since the release of the first book, a community of like-minded, inquisitive and creative people has grown up around these conversations, and I hope this community will expand with the publication of this book.”

Images courtesy of Zioxla 
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Window-Shopping through the Iron Curtain

Window-Shopping through the Iron Curtain is an upcoming book, published by Thames and Hudson, that presents a selection of more than 100 images of shop windows shot by David Hlynsky during four trips taken between 1986 and 1990 to Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, East Germany, and Moscow. Using a Hasselblad camera, Hlynsky captured the slow, routine moments of daily life on the streets and in the shop windows of crumbling Communist countries. The resulting images could be still-lifes representing the intersection of a Communist ideology and a consumerist, Capitalist tool—the shop window—with the consumer stuck in the middle. Devoid of overt branding or calculated seduction, the shop windows were typically adorned with traditional yet incongruous symbols of cheer: homey lace curtains, paper flowers, painted butterflies, and pictures of happy children. Some windows were humble in their simple offerings of loaves and tinned fishes; others were zanily artistic, as in the modular display of military shirts in a Moscow storefront; and some illustrated intense professional pride, such as a sign in a Prague beauty salon depicting a pedicurist smiling fiendishly over an imperfect sole.

The Blogazine – Images courtesy of Thames and Hudson 
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Wolfgang Tillmans: Book for Architects

Wolfgang Tillmans’s installation Book for Architects (2014) is currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum for the first time since its debut at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. Over a period of ten years, Tillmans photographed buildings in thirty-seven countries on five continents to produce Book for Architects. The 450 photographs are presented in a site-specific, two-channel video installation projected onto perpendicular walls.

Book for Architects shows architecture through the eyes of the artist. Tillmans seeks to express the complexity, irrationality, madness, and beauty found in quotidian buildings, street patterns, and fragments of spaces. He achieves this from a technical standpoint by using standard lenses, which most closely approximate the perspective of the naked eye. Additionally, Tillmans designs the experience of the exhibition in the installation space itself—from the proximity and arrangement of the projected images to the seating, which is designed in a bleacher-like arrangement to enable a range of perspectives and views of the work. Through this cyclic series of photographs of largely anonymous building exteriors, interiors, city shots, and street views, Tillmans presents a personal portrait of contemporary architecture that will be familiar to everyone.

Images courtesy of Wolfgang Tillmans and the MET 
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Joan Didion Seen Through the Lens of Julian Wasser

When Julian Wasser first shot Joan Didion in her home in Hollywood in 1968, little did he know that his nonchalant images of the literary hero would inspire a fashion campaign almost 5 decades later. Posing with ease and carelessness, Ms. Didion, shot for Time Magazine after the release of her book “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”, unknowingly anticipated her current status as fashion icon and model for the French brand Céline. After causing much internet upheaval – the campaign was shot by notorious Mr. Teller and shows Ms. Didion hidden behind a pair of oversized black sunglasses – the great writer is now the main subject of a show at Danziger Gallery in New York. As part of their ‘project’ series, the gallery showcases selected images of Ms. Didion shot by Julian Wasser, posing with her Corvette Stingray car, or while smoking or with her daughter Quintana Roo on her lap. Recalling the afternoons spent at the writer’s house – the photographer would shoot her five times over the next couple of years – Mr. Wasser said: “It was a nice, cozy house. And she was a very easy person to talk to. No Hollywood affectations.” And it is exactly that atmosphere that still appears in Ms. Didion’s portraits, even those ‘staged-not-staged’ images set forward by Juergen Teller.

Images by Julian Wasser – Courtesy of Danziger Gallery 
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Through the Lens of Beat Schweizer

Images courtesy of Beat Schweizer 
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Eric Bachmann: Muhammad Ali, Zurich, 26.12.1971

Good projects often hide interesting anecdotes. This is also the case with the book “Muhammad Ali, Zurich, 26.12.1971″, published by Edition Patrick Frey which shows the iconic American smooth-talking rhymester-boxer before and during his prize fight in Zurich against German heavyweight Jürgen Blin on December 26, 1971. Hans-Ruedi Jaggi, a Swiss hustler and promoter, succeeded in bringing the champ to Zurich for the fight. At Zurich’s Playboy Bar, Jaggi made a bet with Jack Starck, a society reporter for the Swiss tabloid Blick, for a bottle of Ballantine’s that, after having already got Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones to give concerts in Zurich, he would now lure the mighty Muhammad Ali to town for a fight. He subsequently flew to the States three times but couldn’t get an “in” with Ali. Eventually he made it through to Ali’s Black Muslims. When asked by the clan’s spiritual leader Herbert Muhammad, “What’s with the dough?” he pulled $10,000 — pretty much all the money he had at the time — out of his silver ankle-boots and a preliminary deal was promptly signed and sealed on a sheet of hotel stationery.

Zurich photographer Eric Bachmann accompanied Ali during his ten-day stay, on his winter jog through Zurich’s woods or buying shoes in a working-class neighborhood, going through his training drills and, finally, during the big fight, which rapidly climaxed in the seventh round when he knocked out the blond German giant Jürgen Blin. Muhammad Ali, Zurich, 26.12.1971 documents the events in brisk chronological order, as befits a boxer who “floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee,” in a rapid-fire succession of impressively intimate and humorous shots against the placid urban backdrop of mid-’70s Zurich. The book is richly illustrated with a great many facsimiled boxing match program pages and newspaper clippings.

Rujana Rebernjak – Images courtesy of Edition Patrick Frey 
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Francois Prost: After Party

Melancholy, desolation and bewilderment are rarely associated with lavish night clubs. And yet, Francois Prost’s photographic series “After Party” catches a glimpse of the clubs after their magic has dispersed, unfolding a sense of emptiness and displacement. Captured under bright blu skies, these French night clubs loose all of their compelling charm. Once darkness is lifted, we are left with strange conglomerates of cliché visual iconography, improbable architectural compositions, funky names and an endless amount of dire neon lights, told through Prost’s direct photographic language, that subtly mocks the scenes’ predicability and dreariness. As we cheerfully approach New Year’s celebrations, we have to wonder if this is really what our after-party will look like?

Rujana Rebernjak 
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Steven Meisel: Role Play

Organized by Phillips, Role Play is a traveling exhibition celebrating the groundbreaking work of internationally acclaimed photographer Steven Meisel. From his early days as an illustrator for Women’s Wear Daily, Meisel captured the 80s zeitgeist in his bold and pioneering style. Ever the visionary, Meisel has continued to cultivate his distinct eye with each passing decade, continuously defining and redefining the leading aesthetic in fashion photography. Over the course of his illustrious career, Meisel has collaborated with major fashion publications, from Vanity Fair to Interview, W Magazine, and Vogue, and Vogue Italia, for whom he has photographed every cover for the past twenty-five years. His imagery is reliably rich in narrative, drawing from an encyclopedic knowledge of fashion’s history. With an informed nod to the past, Meisel’s photographs continue to lead the ever-evolving dialogue in fashion photography.

Rujana Rebernjak 
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