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August 31, 2014

The Original Paparazzo

Elio Sorci and the Birth of Celebrity Culture

Elio Sorci was a paparazzo before there was a name for it. His cat-and-mouse game through the streets of his native Rome was a far cry from today’s long lenses pointed at luxury yachts, but the us-against-them mentality towards the rich and famous was the same. “A paparazzo, ” he stated, “is a young, carefree, happy man who earns his daily bread by putting other people into difficulty and doesn’t mind the risks.”

The term ‘paparazzo’ entered the global vernacular with the release of Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita in 1960: Walter Santesso played the celebrity-chasing photographer 'Paparazzo,' and the rest was history. Sorci was there to document it, having been asked to visit Fellini’s set and capture chance moments with, among others, Anita Ekberg, who appears here in an exclusive edit from Roads publishing's forthcoming book Paparazzo: The Elio Sorci Collection, alongside Sorci’s shots of Keith Richards, Tina Turner, Audrey Hepburn and Clint Eastwood.

Sorci was named the highest-paid photographer in the world in 1963. He passed away last year, and did not consider the generations that followed him to be true practitioners of his craft. “[He] found his professional path by chance rather than design,” writes Christies’ Director and International Head of Photography, Philippe Garner in an introductory essay to the book. “Indeed, it might be rightly posited that it was precisely their lack of formal training, their lack of self-consciousness towards the medium, the absence of all those aesthetic and ethical anxieties that can inhibit spontaneity, that cast them so perfectly in the role of ruthless image-hunters.”

Paparazzo: The Elio Sorci Collection is published by Roads, and is available in limited-edition with an archival quality digital print.

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M/M (Paris) x Vanessa Paradis

The Convention-Defying Design Duo Take Us Behind the Scenes of the Parisian Siren’s New Video

“It’s somewhere between reality and fiction," says Mathias Augustyniak of M/M (Paris) regarding Vanessa Paradis’s “Mi Amor,” the new music video for the elfin singer, model and actress. Augustyniak and Michael Amzalag (the other half of the acclaimed graphic design studio), were first introduced to the French songstress by producer Benjamin Biolay, who worked on Paradis’s new album, Love Songs. Here the pair take us on an illustrative journey of their creative process. “It’s extremely precisely written and mathematically planned, and can ultimately nourish a project," says Augustyniak of the methodology, which includes rendering their signature graphic aesthetic into the multiple storyboards they archive in their studio. Since crossing paths at Paris's Les Arts Décoratifs school, the pair have worked as art directors on innumerable fashion, art and music projects, incorporating typography, print, illustration, photography, film and interior design. Envisioning their commissions as “conversations,” M/M (Paris) previously shot Björk’s acclaimed video for “Hidden Place,” co-directed with Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. Next up for Augustyniak and Amzalag is a book collection of archives from 2001 paying homage to films, published by Taschen.

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Robert Mapplethorpe: As Above, So Below

The Late Photographer’s New Exhibition Puts the Onus on the Viewer

Robert Mapplethorpe was a controversial chronicler of American subculture, sparking debates about eroticism and racial exploitation in the arts that are still relevant today. As Above, So Below, the late New York artist’s forthcoming exhibition at LA’s OHWOW gallery that is previewed here, is no exception. “He treated each subject equally, unbiased and without judgment,” says Al Moran, the co-founder of the institution that was previously based in Miami. “Mapplethorpe directs you by every construct at his disposal to look, and look again.” His classical portraiture, often depicting the male form, and desire for pictorial balance is the focus of the exhibition. The show’s title refers to a Hermetic principle, suggesting that whatever happens on one level of reality also occurs on another––a concept reflected by a shared aesthetic that exists between Mapplethorpe’s photographs that some consider obscene and others, beautiful.

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