Russell Young's career started off with a bit of Faith -- an album sleeve's worth, in fact. He shot the photographic insert for that famous George Michael release in the '80, and now his over-sized pop art capturings of celebrities are the toast of international high-rollers. Brad Pitt's got one, so does Barack Obama, and through April 1 you can see what the well-heeled are gobbling up at the Goss-Michael Foundation which is showcasing a splashy retrospective of Young's work.
After capturing George Michael's mug, Russell Young became a highly sought after rock 'n' roll shutterbug. Bjork, Morrissey, and REM -- everyone wanted him behind the lens and in control of their public personas. Those stills came to life as Young shifted into the director's chair where his vision became a major voice in the MTV generation; he held court throughout the '90s when he oversaw the creation of more than 100 music videos.
Over the last decade Young has moved away from the dial to brand himself in the pop art circuit. His first major show, Pig Portraits, took our societal addiction for voyeurism and celebrated it by using Hollywood mug shots and flushing them through with pigment until they bled neon hues. Yep, it sold out. Next he coupled with Henry Diltz, folk musician and photographer for some of rock history's most famous pics, like Pete Townsend smashing his guitar. Diltz allowed Young to harvest from his photographic crop and reseed his most fascinating shots as silk screens. Young has paired up with other photographers to do the same, taking over trendy restaurants in the Meat Packing District and galleries in Miami and LA for the exhibitions, which always sell, sell, sell.
My favorite thing about this Goss-Michael exhibition is that Young has added a strange element to the show where he redirects the camera on himself. Labeled as "performance art" but bordering more on the celebrity of a celebrity artist, he's had a camera installed in his Los Angeles studio so that whenever you'd like to touch base with the Russell Young -- Maybe he's eating a sandwich? Will he ever turn on that wood-burning stove? -- you can hit this link and peek into the work space. I've been trying it for four days and have come up with nada, but Young's been traveling in support of the retrospective which is likely why the site has remained so sleepy.
Check it out, because who knows? Maybe you'll click in at just the right moment, take a screen shot of something that would otherwise have gone unnoticed, blow it up, silk screen it, and launch your own career into the celebrity arts.
The Goss-Michael Foundation is located at 1405 Turtle Creek Blvd., and is open Tuesday through Saturday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Admission is free but donations are accepted.
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