Thomas Struth at Golan Heights, Israel 2011, © Dan Hirsch
Thomas Struth at Golan Heights, Israel 2011, © Dan Hirsch

Two weeks ago I had the unbelievably exciting opportunity to interview world famous photographer, Thomas Struth. Ever since developing a curiosity spanning outside of the fashion industry and into art, I can remember admiring Mr.Struth’s work. He has amassed quite the portfolio since the start of his career over thirty years ago. After dabbling in the arts and studying painting under artist Gerhard Richter, Mr.Struth turned to photography. In the late 70s he began photographing cityscapes around the world, but his interests soon expanded, leading to the start of his Family Portrait series. As mentioned below, his portraits are an ever-growing body of work, in contrast to his Museum Photographs, his most celebrated series, and one of his latest projects, Nature and Politics.

You may remember, HERE, when I compared Mr.Struth’s family portraits to the portraits shot at the end of Givenchy Couture each season. Although he is a photographer at heart, I was eager to discuss the role that fashion plays in his existing bodies of work. Our conversation, transcribed below, was an exciting opportunity for me to learn more about his career and philosophy behind photography. Since speaking, I have grown an even greater admiration towards both Thomas Struth as an artist and his work as its own entity.

Minnie Muse: How does your background in painting effect how you photograph?
Thomas Struth: Studying the history of painting taught me that pictures are constructed. Every element in the picture lets us reach an overall balance and an overall dynamic of information. You know when you take away an element all the other elements change, as well; I think that just made me very aware of how pictures are constructed.

MM: How do you choose the families photographed in your portraits?
TS: Family Portraits is a very small, still developing body of work. I never reach out so much to find families, I live my life and occasionally there is a new family or new people who I find interesting. The number of family portraits grows exponentially much slower than, for example, when I was working on streets, or the museum pictures, that was much more proactive. Sometimes, on occasion, I will make a photograph of a family who asks me, but that is very rare. I will only do that when I think there is something interesting or I see in that family something that somewhat touches me.

MM: What if you could photograph any family in history?
TS: I’ve never thought about things like that, I am not so good with famous people. Normally, photographing very well known people, it is very problematic, and when I got this request to take a photo of the queen, I thought I just could not say no, I might have been a coward in a way.

MM: You have photographed countless urban spaces, what made you want to explore a rural environment, like the jungle?
TS: Well, when you make pictures one thing is the dynamic and the reasoning of what leads you to make the picture, but once the picture is made, then the question is, what do you do with it? You study and observe what the reaction is with the picture. With the paradise photographs, the idea was that I wanted to make the pictorial structure very complex and detailed, where the observer could not ever completely see every detail and so the observer would be forced to lose himself or herself in the observation. I thought the most obvious object to do that would be forest, and then I thought that to do the forest would maybe be too easy because you have the sort of vertical stance. Then I thought maybe the jungle would be the best because of the very dense complexity of structure. I think in the end the effect that these pictures have is so evident and yet the structure is so complex that usually they make the observer very calm.

MM: How do you choose which paintings to photograph people observing in your museum series?
TS: This is all limited, or mostly limited to the figurative work, because that is the only kind of painting with the doubling effect, the situation of figures in the painting and the situation of figures in front of the painting. I select quite intuitively the pictures, the paintings that I like a lot. When I started at the Louvre I looked at Delacroix because I love Delacroix’s work, but then I found it too evident or too obvious. For example, Death of Sardanapalus (1927) is a vertical painting with a big bed and two naked women and a kind of a pale looking man, it is a fantastic painting but it would have been too obvious in a photograph, so I picked Théodore Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa (1819) because it makes for a more interesting combination.

MM: Does anyone style your portraits?
TS: I almost never interfere with what people wear in the family portraits, except when there is a certain pattern in a t-shirt or dress that I know will be visually too magnetic to an unjustified degree. For example, if someone were to wear a Burberry-style pattern, something that would be visually attractive for the eye but had nothing to do with the dynamic of the family, eventually I would say, maybe you can change into something else. But I would say 95% of the time I did not do that, I just left everything how it was.

MM: What role does fashion play in your photographs?
TS: For fashion I am interested in messages, in subject matter that is timeless. For example, in my street photographs, in my early ones, you see that all these cars are from the late 70s, so they don’t exist anymore, but in clothing, it is a bit less dramatic, even though in fifty years when you look at the family portraits people might dress differently, one day you will see it.

Western Wear
The Jordan Family

Greetings from France! It feels amazing to be in such serenity, regardless that our annual voyage overseas means the end of summer is near. Amidst yesterday’s packing madness, I stumbled upon photography gold. Yes, that is the Jordan clan above circa 1993 in full denim glory; that would be me in front as a tiny, little thing being held up by my grandpa. I’d love to say this is how we dressed every evening in the 90s, but truthfully we were all in costume for my parents’ Country Western Party.

Western Wear
With my g-parents

Western Wear
Like my booties? Just seconds later they became a chew toy…

I was surprised to find the above photos and learn that Mary-Kate and Ashley’s How The West Was Fun was not my primary introduction to western wear. Looking back, all I can think about is that if we had a horse we would be the perfect stand-ins for Laurie Simmon’s 1979 Cowboys series (pictured below).

Laurie Simmons
Laurie Simmons’ Brothers/Horizon, 1979

Laurie Simmons
Laurie Simmons’ Cowboy Pattern, 1979

The fact of the matter is that everyone loves hoedown apparel. Whether it be the Jeremy Scott number that Leigh Lezark wore to Derek Blasberg’s 30th Birthday – I feel a bit odd knowing the amount I do about that party, thanks to Mr.Blasberg himself who wrote features for a few publications – or Jean Paul Gaultier’s SS06 collection shown in his hay-filled atelier, each season someone, somewhere toys with western/farm/hoedown inspiration. To this day, no show has measured up to Chanel’s SS10 Farm Collection, but for AW12 it was Isabel Marant’s turn to have a go. While I wasn’t initially a fan, I have warmed up to certain pieces as they begin to trickle into online retailers. Thanks to Net-a-Porter I find myself developing a hunger for one of her suede, fringe coats or a new pair of trusty Marant boots. Continue checking Net-a-Porter for the latest Fall pieces from Isabel Marant and more… Happy shopping!

Isabel Marant AW12
Isabel Marant AW12 Ready-to-Wear

My Little Damien Hirst
My Little Damien Hirst

I recently rediscovered the work of Berlin-based artist Mari Kasurinen after featuring her My Little Damien Hirst unknowingly HERE prior to my trip to Germany. Ever since returning from Berlin after seeing the Art and Toys show I have been drawn to the lighthearted nature of toys. Kasurinen’s entire My Little Pop Icons series is brilliantly playful serving as the perfect means of bringing together fashion and art. Her decision to start this body of work came when looking at the influential nature of both children’s toys and pop culture. She toys with, quite literally, the idea of materialism and excess. Now that every major fashion house has launched a children’s line, naturally it seems that My Little Pony apparel and such is the next step. Besides, a few years back I would have killed for my American Girl Doll to sport a Gaga-esque meat dress.

To date, Karl Lagerfeld and Vivienne Westwood are the only two designers to be ‘My Little Pony-fied’ but I’m hoping they are soon joined by an inked up My Little Marc Jacobs, My Little Peter Dundas complete with a perfectly styled blonde mane and two very prim My Little Viktor & Rolf’s.

My Little Lady Gaga
My Little Lady Gaga

My Little Karl Lagerfeld
My Little Karl Lagerfeld

My Little Ziggy Stardust
My Little Ziggy Stardust

My Little Frida Kahlo
My Little Frida Kahlo

My Little Vivienne Westwood
My Little Vivienne Westwood

My Little Andy Warhol
My Little Andy Warhol

Turvey x Ruff

I’ve been getting my LONDON ON with all of the Olympic fever as of late. This constant talk of competition got me thinking of which Londoners would win the fashion Olympics for best artistic inspiration. It was a close call and after many heats here is who came out on top.

The gold goes to newbie British menswear designer Joseph Turvey. I was first introduced to Turvey’s work just days ago in THIS Style.com feature. I am usually not drawn to clothing sporting massive faces, often thinking they serve as a distraction more than anything, but there in an innocence in these sketches pictured above that I love – I am particularly eyeing the backpack. All of Turvey’s sketches bear striking similarities to my favorite portrait artist, German-born photographer Thomas Ruff. Ruff’s subjects prove awkwardness can absolutely be beautiful. One day I dream of displaying one of these wonderfully uncomfortable shots in my home but until then, a Turvey piece hanging in my closet will be just fine.

Turvey x Ruff
Portraits by Thomas Ruff

Coming in a close second is Mary Katrantzou for her amazing Candida Höfer-inspired dresses. Although Katrantzou has been around for a few seasons now, I can still remember first spotting her wildly whimsical pieces at Colette a few years back. To date, her dining room series is still my favorite, but no matter what theme each season brings there is always an ode to Höfer’s symmetrical prints. Höfer is a German-based photographer known for her works of elaborate interiors. Both women’s use of balanced lines, depth and color make them the perfect European pair.

Shop Mary Katrantzou at Barneys New York, Neiman Marcus and Net-a-Porter.

Katrantzou x Höfer
Candida Höfer’s Convento San Francisco de Val de Dios Santiago de Compostela I, 2010 and Mary Katrantzou FW12

Katrantzou x Höfer
Mary Katrantzou SS11 and Candida Höfer’s Masonic Temple Philadelphia I, 2007

Katrantzou x Höfer
Candida Höfer’s Bibliotheque Nationale de France and Mary Katrantzou FW12

Katrantzou x Höfer
Mary Katrantzou SS11 and Candida Höfer’s Palazzo Medici-Ricarrdi Firenze I, 2008

Katrantzou x Höfer
Mary Katrantzou FW12 and Candida Höfer’s Brooklyn Museum of Art IV, 2001

Katrantzou x Höfer
Mary Katrantzou FW12 and Candida Höfer’s Dia. Beacon New York II, 2006

Katrantzou x Höfer
Candida Höfer’s San Martino Napoli I, 2009 and Mary Katrantzou SS11

Just behind Turvey and Katrantzou is fellow Brit J.W. Anderson with the bronze. Anderson’s mod pre-fall collection must find a place in everyone’s autumn wardrobe, particularly those amazing sweaters of his. Everything from the colors to the clean lines in his color-blocking reminds me of the work of yet another Berlin-born artist, Daniel Pflumm. Pflumm’s minimalist light-boxes are part of his Censored Logo series produced in the late 90s. These pieces challenge the authority of corporate identity just as Anderson’s simple designs prove that chic needs no logo.

Shop J.W. Anderson on Net-a-Porter.

Anderson x Pflumm
J.W. Anderson Pre-fall 2012

Anderson x Pflumm
Light boxes by Daniel Pflumm and sweaters by J.W. Anderson

Windowed

After spending the weekend in Chicago for Lollapalooza it was nice to return home from a hiatus to find my feature up on Barney’s blog The Window. It was such fun being able to contribute to one of my favorite blogs. Click here to access the full feature, and here to shop all my fall favorites and more on Barneys.com!

IMG_2237
Ellis Gallagher for Tiffany Soho

I can still recall almost ten years ago when Louis Vuitton’s now flagship store on the Champs-Elysées was, at the time, a massive monogram trunk. A part of me was hoping the LV panels would never come down but since the store’s opening, countless other fashion houses have hopped on the designer scaffolding bandwagon. We now live in an age where there is as much talk about the outside of a store under construction as what is opening in the space. Take the recent dropping of Yves to just Saint Laurent at the brand’s future Mercer storefront which has garnered nearly as must buzz as Heid’s much anticipated debut runway collection. But alas, Tiffany has revolutionized the world of scaffolding once again in the weeks leading up to their long awaited return to Soho; the neighborhood where the brand began almost 175 years ago.

Rather than shielding their new store from the public by way of a massive Tiffany Blue box, the luxury brand has taken an even more artistic approach to construction. Tiffany has partnered with four contemporary artists to decorate the outside of the storefront prior to their September opening. Each artist has been given the theme True Love as inspiration as well as two weeks to install and show how they interpret the meaning of love. Danielle Dimston was the first to show on July 16th and Ellis Gallagher came shortly after on July 27th. Gallagher’s work is still on display but will be replaced on August 8th by Danny Roberts and the final artist in the rotation is Natasha Law on August 17th. Head to Tiffany Soho – 97 Greene Street – to see it all in person and maybe catch a glimpse of an artist in action.

Ellis Gallagher
Ellis Gallagher At Work

Danielle Dimston
Danielle Dimston for Tiffany Soho

Danny Roberts
All work by Danny Roberts

Natasha Law
All work by Natasha Law