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September 16, 2014

George Hurrell: Legends in Light

The Photographer Who Defined the Hollywood Ideal

“The images that Hurrell constructed were designed to create an impossibly perfect ideal, elevating these actors and actresses into the realm of gods and goddess,” says Charlotte Rey, co-curator of George Hurrell: Legends in Light, the inaugural exhibition at MATE—the Museo Mario Testino, opened by the photographer's arts foundation in Lima, Peru—that features work by the man who is thought to have single-handedly invented the Hollywood glamour portrait. “This is an aesthetic that far outreaches the confines of the silver screen.” He initially signed up to join a Seminary in his native Chicago to train as a priest before discovering his artistic path. The Church’s loss was the film industry’s gain as Hurrell was introduced to the maelstrom that was MGM Studios and became renowned for his iconic portraits of Golden Era's leading lights including Clark Gable and Greta Garbo. “He sculpted his subjects with light, carefully crafting their flawless complexions,” says Rey, who put together the show with her creative partner Duncan Campbell and Testino himself. “Hurrell was always able to find a new point of view and portray them as the best possible version of themselves.”

Legends in Light launches at MATE: Museo Mario Testino, Lima September 17 and runs through December 6.

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Flight of the Pompadour

Karan Kandhari's Film On Tribal Obsession is Joined by a Personal Take on Subculture From Jonathan Wingfield

With a pomade-sculpted quiff, the teenage protagonist in London-based filmmaker Karan Kandhari’s deadpan short goes through the rituals of a rockabilly fan’s rite of passage. Captured in 16mm, the 1950s-inspired adolescent played by Oliver Parsons awkwardly shuffles into his first dance, and is intimidated by the Osaka Black Lightning gang before finally procuring his own majestic quiff. “I find quiffs funny. As a sort of display of masculinity they are the most delicate, temperamental things,” says the director, whose Flight of the Pompadour is part of A United Howl, a trilogy of short comedies that explore misfits and loners. “There was a constant battle on set to keep them erect as they were melting under the lights. I had a quiff for many years but it started to rule my life so I hung up the comb. I now look like a bum, but at least there's no grease on my pillow.” To continue our ode to the dedication of musical tribes, NOWNESS asked Jonathan Wingfield to reflect upon his misspent youth.

Camden Frank

He was always there on a Sunday. Religiously. Right outside the tube station. Flared jeans, hippy waistcoat, lithe torso, burning joss sticks, hair down to his arse, rainbow headband, patchouli oil, Flying V guitar, no shoes or socks. Playing widdly-widdly psychedelic synth. With his toes.

Lost in his own world. Making the most terrible music you could possibly imagine. He was supposed to be wigging out in Woodstock in 1969. Not in Camden High Street in 1988. I called him Camden Frank, on account of him looking vaguely like Frank Zappa. He was the most exotic thing I’d ever seen. Although he wasn’t the reason I went to Camden on Sundays, looking back now, he should have been.

I was only there in search of an identity. Punks, goths, rockabillies, skinheads… Camden did all the uniforms. Even as a 14 year old, I could tell the wild-eyed leather gang sprawled out on the Lock were just part-timers. Pastiching someone else’s rebellion. McPunks. But Frank was the real deal. Out of time. Out of step. Out of synch.

Just recently, Camden Frank drifted into my thoughts for the first time in 25 years. This happened, somewhat incongruously, during a conversation I was having with Victoria Beckham. “When did you first come up to London?” I asked her. “Like, properly come up, you know, without your gran.”

“I’ve always loved London, it’s such an inspiring place” she replied, simultaneously deflecting the question and sounding like a foreign exchange student. There was a short pause. “I’d come up to Camden market on a Sunday,” she suddenly blurted out.

Hearing her utter the words “Camden market” suddenly made me feel an extraordinary—and, frankly, delusional—connection with her. In my mind, she too must have crossed paths with Camden Frank. I like to imagine it all sunk in, too. Into Victoria’s teenage mind, just waiting to be channeled into something meaningful. Not so much in the Spice Girls, but maybe Victoria’s solo work, or perhaps the eponymous luxury fashion label.

These days, of course, Camden’s all Amy Winehouse murals and Union Jack Britpop guitars. But where’s Frank? Where’s his statue? Well, I’ve just found him on Google. All I did was type “hippy + outside + camden + tube + station”. A ‘style icon’ if ever there was one.

Polite note to the Sartorialist—hands off Frank, he’s mine.

Jonathan Wingfield is the Editor-in-Chief of System and a regular contributor to NOWNESS.

Fashion credits
The Boy: wardrobe by YMC. Osaka Black Lighting Gang: jackets by Lewis Leathers.

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Spotlight

Jean Pigozzi’s World

The Jet-Setting Collector Reveals His Downtime Moments with Iconic Personalities

Steve Jobs kicking back in his Birkenstocks, Diane von Furstenberg sipping a beer in Venice and the private dinners of ‘the supers’ are all uncovered in Jean Pigozzi’s secret stash of photographs. My World is a fly-on-the-wall visual journal from the art lover, collector and entrepreneur, showing at Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art from next week. “It’s an insight into my life over the last 30 years,” muses Pigozzi, who studied film and photography at Harvard, and whose work features in the permanent collections of MoMA and Centre Pompidou. Curated by Chinese photographer and director Alexi Tan, the 250-snapshot exhibition—that includes the philanthropist's take on this year’s Oscars party—is Pigozzi’s first in China. “Jean's body of work chronicles a certain part of popular—not just celebrity— culture through his own unique background,” says Tan. “And since there has been growing curiosity in China, his photos can give them a different perspective of the world they are so intrigued by.”

What’s the secret to a good party?
Jean Pigozzi:
A great residence can help bring interesting people together but the most important thing is to be a fun, generous and caring host—that’s what makes a good party, more than expensive wine or extravagant food.

What memories emerged from looking at your photography archives?
JP:
I met Diane [von Furstenberg] in a nightclub in Paris when she was 20 and I was 17. How can you not love being with some of the most beautiful women in the world?

Where do you store your photos?
JP:
In nice boxes.

How would you describe your world in three words?   
JP:
Exciting, always evolving.

What’s on the agenda for your time in Beijing?  
JP:
Go see contemporary art.

My World runs from March 14 through 24 at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing.

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