March 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
“The word Surrealism used in reference to the 20th Century art movement founded by André Breton is a useful term. Used elsewhere, it is less so and means little more than “strange.” In fact, the word has become virtually meaningless because it only suggests that the artist’s imagery combines aspects of the world in ways that do not exactly mimic everyday reality—but that is what every painting and every other work of visual art does to some degree. All visual art has an element of strangeness about it, if only because three dimensional objects are transformed into two or flesh is changed into paint, marble, bronze, wood, ivory, steel, and so forth. The visual arts are by definition a strange-making of the world. And so are poetry and fiction. And that is their thrill and their power. That is why we like them, why we need them. They free us from the quotidian reality of our own lives by giving us something that seems more true, more real, and more meaningful—even in their depiction of lives as commonplace as our own. That is the way of art because it demands artifice and structure while life only demands continued biological functions. Though art only mimics life, at times it can seem more vital, more alive, than the real thing.”
March 14, 2013 § Leave a comment
Gorman’s greatness—and he is as genuinely great as any living photographer—derives from his amazing ability to catch the essence of his model. The pictures of Tony and Rex and Gregory in this volume; his well-known nude torso of Iman, a portrait of the essence of feminine allure; Elton John, his eyes closed as if in a moment of ecstasy; Brigitte Nielsen nude and looking like an Amazon colossal in her power; or the closely cropped, full face portrait of Leonardo Di Caprio exuding the most intense sexualityare iconic images that people will still be looking at a hundred years from now, looking at when they no longer can recall who these people were or why there were important to us. These pictures will still speak because others will continue to recognize in them what they are actually about—not celebrity, fame, or even the particular individual but something fundamental about the human species regardless of the century. These are portraits of allure, ecstasy, power, and sexuality because Gorman’s portraiture extracts something essential from the individual. His portraits may be of the famous and the beautiful, but his art, like the art of the great portrait painters, is rooted in our humanity.