ARTPIL Profiles of the Arts
Erik Madigan Heck / Old Future
Through Aug 25, 2018 / Christophe Guye Galerie

Erik Madigan Heck

Erik Madigan Heck is one of the youngest and most promising American fashion photographers of the contemporary art scene. In his relatively short career the artist developed a personal way of looking at fashion, as Nathalie Herschdorfer underlines in her essay “Minimal and pure: Erik Madigan Heck fashion photographs.” His work is characterized by a clear and distinctive treatment of colors and patterns, which makes it unequivocal.

 

Erik Madigan Heck

Erik Madigan Heck

“Fashion photography is 100 years old and has followed varied paths since Baron de Meyer and Edward Steichen first photographed in fashion. For a time, the only place to see a fashion photograph was in the pages of a magazine, or possibly stuck to the wall of a teenage girl’s bedroom; but things have changed, with museums holding major exhibitions, galleries and auction houses selling prints, and publishers constantly releasing new titles devoted to fashion photography. Iconic images by the likes of Horst P. Horst, Erwin Blumenfeld, Irving Penn, Guy Bourdin, Richard Avedon or Helmut Newton have entered our cultural history, selling for record prices. No longer regarded as frivolous, fashion photography has been elevated to the status of an art form.

 

Erik Madigan Heck

Erik Madigan Heck

Erik Madigan Heck

Erik Madigan Heck

Erik Madigan Heck’s visual language is quite amazing in that sense. In a relatively short career, he has developed a very personal way of looking at fashion. A glance at his book, Old Future – published this year by Thames & Hudson – reveals a clear and distinctive treatment of colors and patterns that form his signature. The series reproduced here was published in April 2017 in the New York Times Magazine. It was Heck’s own idea to produce a fashion portfolio on Comme des Garçons to accompany the launch of Rei Kawakubo’s recent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in a magazine that would normally exclude fashion pages. Again, this is an example of Heck’s unique approach: to work with a non-fashion magazine and focus on Kawakubo’s work – a designer who strives to go beyond fashion and express ‘abstract images’ rather than simply design clothes.

 

Erik Madigan Heck

Erik Madigan Heck

Erik Madigan Heck

Heck received support from both the New York Times Magazine and Comme des Garçons to photograph six pieces from the Fall 2017 collection. Minimal and pure, the colors in Heck’s photographs resonate with the palette of Rei Kawakubo’s clothes. Called Future of Silhouette, the series pushes fashion photography to a new extent. The white face of model Saskia de Brauw appears here and there on a body slightly out of scale, a body of expanded forms. The history of fashion photography attests that the pendulum has always swung between artificial and natural beauty, yet the obsession with a healthy body – one that is slim, unblemished, and young – has remained. Here, the body takes another direction. For the last 40 years, Kawakubo has been questioning fashion; this collection works with raw material – what Kawakubo calls ‘nonfabrics’. Heck’s photographs push the concept to new limits, creating imagery that goes beyond traditional fashion photography. Meticulously constructed and enhanced with bright colors, blurring the line between the clothes and the background, his images play with this idea of ‘future’ silhouettes.

 

Erik Madigan Heck

Erik Madigan Heck

Fashion photography is often paradoxical: it is both creative and commercial – produced to order but at the same time generating progressive, experimental, artistic images – whilst representing both haute couture and popular culture. Fashion photography may be regarded as an art form, but it is still an industry that services another (whether high fashion, ready-to-wear, accessories or cosmetics). Photographers, together with fashion designers, produce works which demonstrate that beauty is not a fixed line, but rather one that is in constant flux. Kawakubo also shows how it is an endlessly evolving ideal. This shared obsession with metamorphosis is on vivid display in the photographs Heck created for Comme des Garçons.

Heck collaborates with artists he admires, both in fashion and in art. Kawakubo herself belongs to this group. ‘When I started researching different brands and their designers – from the most mainstream to the most obscure – I began to see fashion as an art form with its own language, aesthetics and creative possibilities,’ he writes in Old Future. He would surely agree that fashion photography is the younger sister of modern art. In the 20th century, photographers commonly stepped from the art world into fashion. Edward Steichen was, together with Alfred Stieglitz, the founder of the journal Camera Work, playing an active role in New York’s 291 gallery where modern art was first exhibited in the early 1900s; Man Ray and Erwin Blumenfeld were closely connected with Dadaist painters; George Hoyningen-Huene was a student with artists André Lhote and Man Ray; William Klein studied with painters André Lhote and Fernand Léger; Horst P. Horst was an assistant to architect Le Corbusier and worked with Salvador Dali. Heck too says he has always looked to painting as a guide to using colors. Among his influences, he doesn’t name photographers, but painters such as Edouard Vuillard, Edgar Degas, Peter Doig, Marlene Dumas and Gerhard Richter. For Heck, ‘art is a continuum you are meant to build from.’”

–Nathalie Herschdorfer

Erik Madigan Heck / Old Future
Through August 25, 2018 / Christophe Guye Galerie
For more information please visit the exhibition page >

Recent Articles
Extra States: Nations in Liquidation
Sep 22–Dec 16, 2018 / Extra City Kunsthal
In its attempt to re-read the notion of statehood and revisit state…
In its attempt to re-read the notion of statehood and revisit state theory, the exhibition aims to go…
A View from the Side / Lars Tunbjörk
Through Dec 2, 2018 / Fotografiska
With a special eye for that which isn’t normally noticed, that which…
With a special eye for that which isn’t normally noticed, that which lurks beneath the surface, Tunbjork’s eye…
Francesca Woodman: Italian Works
Through Dec 15, 2018 / Victoria Miro
One of the key influences of Italian art on Woodman’s work was…
One of the key influences of Italian art on Woodman’s work was in her precise use of composition….
ARTPIL / Prescription .062
in immense autumnal sounds
Another evening in another park, a group of marble horses rose on…
Another evening in another park, a group of marble horses rose on wings in the midst of a…
London Design Biennale / 2018
Through Sep 23, 2018 / Somerset House
Installations explore the full spectrum of emotions as classified by Darwin: Attention,…
Installations explore the full spectrum of emotions as classified by Darwin: Attention, if sudden and close, graduates into…
Dr. Blankman’s New York / Tod Papageorge
Through Nov 23, 2018 / Galerie Thomas Zander
In vivid images of window displays, political posters and encounters in the…
In vivid images of window displays, political posters and encounters in the city, this New York series captures…
Interview: Hanne Lippard
By Heather Jones / Kunsthall Stavanger
“I find it interesting to consider the word ‘viewer’ in relation to…
“I find it interesting to consider the word ‘viewer’ in relation to my work as it is predominantly…
Dreams of Mother-of-Pearl / James Ensor
Through Jun 6, 2019 / Mu.ZEE
This presentation consists almost exclusively of works from the Royal Museum of…
This presentation consists almost exclusively of works from the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, a museum…
Erik Madigan Heck / Old Future
Through Aug 25, 2018 / Christophe Guye Galerie

Erik Madigan Heck

Erik Madigan Heck is one of the youngest and most promising American fashion photographers of the contemporary art scene. In his relatively short career the artist developed a personal way of looking at fashion, as Nathalie Herschdorfer underlines in her essay “Minimal and pure: Erik Madigan Heck fashion photographs.” His work is characterized by a clear and distinctive treatment of colors and patterns, which makes it unequivocal.

 

Erik Madigan Heck

Erik Madigan Heck

“Fashion photography is 100 years old and has followed varied paths since Baron de Meyer and Edward Steichen first photographed in fashion. For a time, the only place to see a fashion photograph was in the pages of a magazine, or possibly stuck to the wall of a teenage girl’s bedroom; but things have changed, with museums holding major exhibitions, galleries and auction houses selling prints, and publishers constantly releasing new titles devoted to fashion photography. Iconic images by the likes of Horst P. Horst, Erwin Blumenfeld, Irving Penn, Guy Bourdin, Richard Avedon or Helmut Newton have entered our cultural history, selling for record prices. No longer regarded as frivolous, fashion photography has been elevated to the status of an art form.

 

Erik Madigan Heck

Erik Madigan Heck

Erik Madigan Heck

Erik Madigan Heck

Erik Madigan Heck’s visual language is quite amazing in that sense. In a relatively short career, he has developed a very personal way of looking at fashion. A glance at his book, Old Future – published this year by Thames & Hudson – reveals a clear and distinctive treatment of colors and patterns that form his signature. The series reproduced here was published in April 2017 in the New York Times Magazine. It was Heck’s own idea to produce a fashion portfolio on Comme des Garçons to accompany the launch of Rei Kawakubo’s recent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in a magazine that would normally exclude fashion pages. Again, this is an example of Heck’s unique approach: to work with a non-fashion magazine and focus on Kawakubo’s work – a designer who strives to go beyond fashion and express ‘abstract images’ rather than simply design clothes.

 

Erik Madigan Heck

Erik Madigan Heck

Erik Madigan Heck

Heck received support from both the New York Times Magazine and Comme des Garçons to photograph six pieces from the Fall 2017 collection. Minimal and pure, the colors in Heck’s photographs resonate with the palette of Rei Kawakubo’s clothes. Called Future of Silhouette, the series pushes fashion photography to a new extent. The white face of model Saskia de Brauw appears here and there on a body slightly out of scale, a body of expanded forms. The history of fashion photography attests that the pendulum has always swung between artificial and natural beauty, yet the obsession with a healthy body – one that is slim, unblemished, and young – has remained. Here, the body takes another direction. For the last 40 years, Kawakubo has been questioning fashion; this collection works with raw material – what Kawakubo calls ‘nonfabrics’. Heck’s photographs push the concept to new limits, creating imagery that goes beyond traditional fashion photography. Meticulously constructed and enhanced with bright colors, blurring the line between the clothes and the background, his images play with this idea of ‘future’ silhouettes.

 

Erik Madigan Heck

Erik Madigan Heck

Fashion photography is often paradoxical: it is both creative and commercial – produced to order but at the same time generating progressive, experimental, artistic images – whilst representing both haute couture and popular culture. Fashion photography may be regarded as an art form, but it is still an industry that services another (whether high fashion, ready-to-wear, accessories or cosmetics). Photographers, together with fashion designers, produce works which demonstrate that beauty is not a fixed line, but rather one that is in constant flux. Kawakubo also shows how it is an endlessly evolving ideal. This shared obsession with metamorphosis is on vivid display in the photographs Heck created for Comme des Garçons.

Heck collaborates with artists he admires, both in fashion and in art. Kawakubo herself belongs to this group. ‘When I started researching different brands and their designers – from the most mainstream to the most obscure – I began to see fashion as an art form with its own language, aesthetics and creative possibilities,’ he writes in Old Future. He would surely agree that fashion photography is the younger sister of modern art. In the 20th century, photographers commonly stepped from the art world into fashion. Edward Steichen was, together with Alfred Stieglitz, the founder of the journal Camera Work, playing an active role in New York’s 291 gallery where modern art was first exhibited in the early 1900s; Man Ray and Erwin Blumenfeld were closely connected with Dadaist painters; George Hoyningen-Huene was a student with artists André Lhote and Man Ray; William Klein studied with painters André Lhote and Fernand Léger; Horst P. Horst was an assistant to architect Le Corbusier and worked with Salvador Dali. Heck too says he has always looked to painting as a guide to using colors. Among his influences, he doesn’t name photographers, but painters such as Edouard Vuillard, Edgar Degas, Peter Doig, Marlene Dumas and Gerhard Richter. For Heck, ‘art is a continuum you are meant to build from.’”

–Nathalie Herschdorfer

Erik Madigan Heck / Old Future
Through August 25, 2018 / Christophe Guye Galerie
For more information please visit the exhibition page >