The 2019 Pirelli Calendar will be by Albert Watson, one of the most influential photographers of all time, famed for his unique and powerful style, characterised by a technical virtuosity which is hard to equal.
Over four decades of photographic history, he has left a durable and persistent mark in the best tradition of exemplary, clear and compelling representation which invites to reflect and mediate through contemplation. In hundreds of magazine covers and portraits, he has celebrated personalities from all backgrounds, all walks of life and all personalities in persistent and strongly iconographic manner and in photo shoots for the most prestigious magazines worldwide he has told extraordinary stories and defined the perception of diverse worlds, symbols and objects.
Albert Watson is a true contemporary master. His photography is one in which the concepts of reality, creativity and ingenuity are told with a sharp style and outstanding technical mastery. He loves talking about his pictures saying that his photographs may be graphic, purely conceptual or in motion but when they are fixed they look like the frames of a film, part and synthesis of a story but often succeed in being all this at once.
Albert Watson’s photographs have entranced the readers of Vogue since the mid-1970's, with Watson photographing a staggering 100 covers alongside over 40 for Rolling Stone magazine.
Watson has taken some of the most well-recognised photographs in the world, from the portrait of Steve Jobs that appeared on the cover of his biography and photo of Alfred Hitchcock holding a plucked goose, to a portrait of a nude Kate Moss taken on her 19th birthday. Watson's prints of his photography are exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide.
Albert Watson on the set for The Cal™ 2019
Albert Watson, a true contemporary master
“I was given a fixed lens camera as a present for my twenty-first birthday. It was a bolt out of the blue, a revelation. I was struck and I immediately understood my way. I still use that camera”. This is how Albert Watson tells of his encounter with photography.
Born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, Albert Watson studied graphic design at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, and film and television at the Royal College of Art in London. Though blind in one eye since birth, he studied photography as part of his curriculum. In 1970, he moved to the United States with his wife, Elizabeth, who got a job as an elementary school teacher in Los Angeles, where he began shooting photos.
Later that year, he met an art director at Max Factor, who offered him his first test session, from which the company bought two shots. His distinctive style eventually caught the attention of American and European fashion magazines such as Mademoiselle, GQ, and Harper’s Bazaar, which booked him for a shoot with Alfred Hitchcock, the first celebrity he ever photographed. Soon after, he began commuting between Los Angeles and New York, and in 1975, he won a Grammy for the photography on the cover of the Mason Proffit album “Come and Gone.” In 1976, he landed his first job for Vogue, and with his move to New York that same year, his career took off.
Over the years, his photographs have appeared on more than 100 covers of Vogue worldwide and been featured in countless other publications, from Rolling Stone to Time to Harper’s Bazaar _ many of the photos iconic fashion shots or portraits of rock stars, rappers, actors and other celebrities. He also has created the photography for hundreds of ad campaigns for major companies, such as Blumarine, Prada, the Gap, Levi’s, Revlon and Chanel. He has shot dozens of Hollywood movie posters, such as “Kill Bill” and “Memoirs of a Geisha,” and has also directed more than 100 television commercials.
His striking photographs and stunning hand-made prints are featured in galleries and museums around the globe. Photo District News, named Albert Watson one of the 20 most influential photographers of all time. He also won numerous honors, including a Lucie Award, a Grammy Award, three Andys, a Der Steiger Award, a Hasselblad Masters Award; and the Centenary Medal, a lifetime achievement award from the Royal Photographic Society. Queen Elizabeth II awarded the Scotsman an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in June 2015 for his lifetime contribution to the art of photography.
Albert Watson has published five books: “Cyclops” (1994, Bullfinch); “Maroc” (Rizzoli, 1998); "Albert Watson” (Phaidon, 2007); "Strip Search" (PQ Blackwell/Chronicle 2010); and "UFO: Unified Fashion Objectives" (PQ Blackwell/Abrams 2010.) His latest book, “Kaos,” was published by Taschen in the fall 2017.
Since 2004, Albert Watson has had solo shows at the Museum of Modern Art in Milan, Italy; the KunstHausWien in Vienna, Austria; the City Art Centre in Edinburgh; the FotoMuseum in Antwerp, Belgium; the NRW Forum in Dusseldorf, Germany; the Forma Galleria in Milan; Fotografiska in Stockholm, Sweden; and the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow. A major retrospective, with a new body of work he shot in Benin, Africa, was shown at the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, Germany, in 2013.
His photographs have also been featured in many group museum shows, including at the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, the Lianzhou Museum of Photography in China, the International Center of Photography in New York, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Deichtorhallen. His photographs are included in the permanent collections at the National Portrait Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian, the Scottish Parliament, the Deichtorhallen, the Multimedia Art Museum, and the Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany, among others.
Albert Watson has always been a workaholic. The archives at his studio in Manhattan are filled with millions of images and negatives, on which world-famous magazines and companies can be read. His studio, also used as a personal gallery, is filled with extraordinarily large-format photographs, many taken in Las Vegas. At first glance these landscapes, interiors and portraits take the viewer by surprise with their soft, filtered range of colors. But even in his new creations, he stays true to himself. The photographs create an aura that takes the viewer into the image but simultaneously demands a reverent distance.
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