Christopher Makos: Polaroids

Blissful Images from the Man Who Introduced Warhol to Photography

Christopher Makos has a lot to answer for. Not only was he the first man to hand Warhol a camera (and teach him how to use it), he also introduced the father of American pop art to then-unknown scrawlers Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat and art directed his first book of photographs, 1979’s Exposures. Before coming to New York, Makos had grown up in Massachusetts and California, and studied architecture in Paris. As a young man, he on several occasions traveled to Fregene, Italy, to visit pioneering surrealist Man Ray, from whom, he says, “I learned a lot of stuff, very quickly. Every artist that has the freedom to feel fresh, or experiment,” he continues, “is feeling the dadaists and surrealists.” Makos’s own work has something of Man Ray’s daring boldness: in the 80s, the way in which he documented the club kids and scenesters that surrounded him was uniquely stark and graphic, crude even. His latest exhibition, Christopher Makos: Polaroids, showing at East Hampton’s Clic Gallery through September 5, focuses on Makos’s experiences in the late 70s and early 80s—from Warhol’s factory to a beach in Montauk, New York; from a close up with Deborah Harry to a stylish car cruising along a sunny highway—all captured by his trusty Polaroid SX-70. “The nature of this film was that it was a Polaroid instant camera,” says Makos. “It was capturing that particular moment in time. It was just really fun.” The images are awash with an easy-breezy feeling that Makos maintains was characteristic of the period. “It was just such a relaxed time, people weren’t afraid to have their picture taken,” he says. “Everyone’s nervous now everything goes on MySpace or Facebook, but in those days, you took a photo and you just gave it to your friend––TMZ didn’t get hold of it!”

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