最新新闻
2006年8月10日
Dansk Magazine
London
Interview
Gottfried Helnwein
If you are an artist and you have had the bad luck to be born into this world - what you first realize when you open your eyes is the horrifying signature looks of mediocrity.
Andy invited me to the factory in New York 1983 and after the usual compliments how he loved my work and so on, he asked me to follow him into an empty room where we sat down opposite to each other and he just froze and he didn't say anything and he didn't move. We sat in silence for some time and I didn't know what to do - at first it was strange and it felt kind of awkward, but then slowly everything started to transcend and the tension dissipated and nothing seemed important anymore. Andy looked like a wax-dummy in the posture of a pharaoh that had been dead since thousands of years - the room around us became darker and darker and the white of Andy's face and hair got a glow so intense that it started to burn my eyes. I realized that we were floating now somewhere in outer space and nothing mattered anymore and I raised my Nikon and shot.
Andy Warhol
silver print, 1983, 99 x 66 cm / 38 x 25''
What attracted you to photographing Michael Jackson?
End of the 70s I decided to start a series of black & white photographic portraits of people that had iconic qualities. My concept was to meet them unprepared with no artistic concept in mind and to leave everything to the spontaneous decision or reflex of the moment. -And to only shoot the face, - no gimmicks, and no sophisticated lighting.
I had seen so many artistic, stylized and often technically very impressive photographs, - but by looking at these pictures I seldom learned anything about the person depicted. Mick Jagger by Mappelthorp looked like his still life lillies immersed in Mappelthorp- aesthetics and illumination - and Mick by Helmut Newton transformed into a slick Newton model.
We often think of photography as an objective medium, but nothing could be further from the truth. We all have pretty much the same appliances and tools, there are no technical secrets, but for some unexplainable reason who ever pushes the button has the potential power to create a new reality.
I was curious to see if I could detect something unknown in the face of a person that has been photographed to death, something that hasn't been visible before. In the following years I photographed William Burroughs, Charles Bukovski, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Muhammad Ali, Andy Warhol, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Roy Lichtenstein, Sting, Keith Haring, Lech Walensa, Marilyn Manson, Norman Mailer, Sean Penn and others.
I met Michael Jackson 1988 on his German Tour. I was surprised to learn that he was quite familiar with my work. He was very interested in Visual Art and asked lots of specific questions about art-history and artistic techniques. I met him then several times in the following years in the US and I stayed with him and Lisa Marie 1994 in Budapest where he shot the video for the "History"-Album. I saw him spending lots of time with Lisa in children-hospitals and I had the impression his compassion and care for these unfortunate children were genuine.
Since your 1988 portrait of Jackson, his style of dress and hair have more or less remained the same. If you were to photograph or paint him today, how would you choose to depict him?
On the contrary - I think his looks changed constantly over the years and he mutated into a different being. When you watch the transformation of Michael Jackson from his childhood on you can't help but to see God's hand in the play, and to think some kind of divine miracle is happening here.
Your photos of Warhol are quite brutally honest. Please tell me a little about your experience of photographing him.
He invited me to the factory in New York 1983 and after the usual compliments how he loved my work and so on, he asked me to follow him into an empty room where we sat down opposite to each other and he just froze and he didn't say anything and he didn't move. We sat in silence for some time and I didn't know what to do - at first it was strange and it felt kind of awkward, but then slowly everything started to transcend and the tension dissipated and nothing seemed important anymore. Andy looked like a wax-dummy in the posture of a pharaoh that had been dead since thousands of years - the room around us became darker and darker and the white of Andy's face and hair got a glow so intense that it started to burn my eyes. I realized that we were floating now somewhere in outer space and nothing mattered anymore and I raised my Nikon and shot.
How would you describe Andy Warhol’s look?
His body was his most important artistic material and medium. Looking like some benign nerd of the Living Dead was his answer to the world around him and a constant stubborn challenge of the stereotype cuteness and dorky jolliness of the American 60ties middle-class trash-society.
Why do you think a lot of artists (be it in literature, art or fashion) take on signature looks?
Because they have no choice! If you are an artist and you have had the bad luck to be born into this world - what you first realize when you open your eyes is the horrifying signature looks of mediocrity.
And if your dreams, aesthetics, creativity and artistic integrity means anything to you than you better stay out of that humiliating inmate-fashion and create your own looks.
It has been said that a signature look is a way of creating the illusion that one is beyond aging; forever immortalised in a timeless, unique style. Would you agree with this?
Keith Richards beyond aging? Look at his face man - it's a book of ancient history containing the tails of 1001 nights of love and death, poesy and sin, of pirates and black souls, of beggars banquets and the blues, and cigarettes, drugs, sex, voodoo and rock 'n' roll.
Keith Richards
silver print, 1990, 99 x 66 cm / 38 x 25''
Charles Bukowski
silver print, 1991, 99 x 66 cm / 38 x 25''
William S. Burroughs
silver print, 1990, 99 x 66 cm / 38 x 25''




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