Tucked into a chic corner between the Burberry and Louis Vuitton stores at NorthPark Center, Bruce Weber’s photographed portraits of prominent visual artists, such as Georgia O’Keefe and Richard Avedon, will transport you to the world in which each artist lived and worked. In a testament to NorthPark Center's commitment to the intersection of art and fashion, the 24-piece exhibition is on view there from now until April 2017, and is displayed simultaneously with Weber’s exhibit of 250-plus images at the Dallas Contemporary, Far From Home.
The small feeling of the exhibition stems from its layout, in which rows of photographs — alternating between pairs and individual images — are arranged facing each other along a hallway that leads to NorthPark’s central gardens. This exhibition is a fitting complement to the larger collection, as it takes viewers "behind the lens.” But rather than peering into Weber’s own life, it shows you the lives of other artists like himself.
Weber is best known for his work as an editorial photographer for magazines including Vogue and GQ, but he also did a lot to define brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein through his fresh, provocative ad campaigns.
Although it may be easy to overlook the works shown at NorthPark in favor of the sexier and more fashionable editorial works in Far From Home, and the easily recognized faces hanging there, Weber still manages to draw viewers in with his use of color and movement to evoke the overall feeling of each piece.
This is particularly true with his 2005 portrait of New York City bad boy artists Ryan McGinley and the late Dash Snow. It's one of the most memorable portraits on view. The two are captured riding a camel down Broome Street, tangled in a bro hug with the Viking-esque Snow modeling a sort of Medieval helmet and the older, but younger looking, McGinley grinning at the camera.
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The two young artists emanate cheer and brazenness, as does the photo. The same feeling is captured by other famous works by Weber, including his portraits of Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Iman. Looking at these photos is like peering into a place in time, a memory. They invite viewers to imagine each artist’s personal lifestyle. Weber also manages to portray each artist in his or her native environment, whether the art studio, or in the case of Snow and McGinley, the streets of their hometown.
Weber's 1993 portrait of Richard Avedon, also a famous fashion photographer, shows him photographing a parade of military officers. It's an unexpected scene if you only know Avedon for his fashion editorials. Here the exhibition presents itself as two-fold. On the one hand the viewer gets to experience another side of Weber’s work — a more intimate connection between him and the subject, artist to artist. On the other, the viewer is opened up to a world of new artists that they may never have heard of, or they learn something new about an artist they already love.
Bruce Weber's work will remain up at NorthPark through April 16, 2017. The Dallas Contemporary show closes Dec. 18. For more info, visit northparkcenter.com and dallascontemporary.org.