Richard Corman: Madonna

  • Richard Corman, Madonna, June 17, 1983

    Richard Corman, Madonna, June 17, 1983

On June 17, 1983, Richard Corman photographed Madonna for the film treatment of Cinde Rella – A Rock Fable. The proposed film was slated to star Madonna as Cinderella in a “gentle spoof” of the original fairy tale; rather than a glass slipper, it would be her voice that revealed her identity to Prince Charming, and the classic ‘happily-ever-after’ ending was adapted to include a music contract. At the time, Corman was a budding photographer, having worked as a studio assistant to Richard Avedon. Madonna, on the verge of stardom, was also known for her work as a back-up dancer and artist’s model, including for the photographer Lee Friedlander.

While the film was unrealized, the narrative of Cinde Rella unfolded in Madonna’s own career. Just one month following this photoshoot, her self-titled debut album was released. Including the Billboard hits Lucky Star, Borderline, and Holiday, the album would ultimately be certified 5 times platinum for having sold 5 million albums worldwide. Madonna’s career was launched. Said Corman of Madonna at the time, “her charisma was multi-dimensional. Her physical beauty, her fashion, her hair and makeup, her humor, her playful sexiness and her accessibility” (Richard Corman, Madonna 66, 2016, n.p.).

Corman, like Andy Warhol and others before him, favored the Polaroid process for the “simplicity” and immediacy that the medium offered. Due to the instantaneous and playful qualities that are inherent to Polaroids, the resulting prints, each unique, capture Madonna’s club-kid-cool style as a rising star. Seen behind her is a 1980s East Village backdrop that attracted other creative luminaries, including Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Kenny Scharf, all of whom could be found on any given night at the legendary Club 57 on St. Mark’s Place.

The Polaroids on offer were believed lost for thirty years and have only recently been rediscovered by the artist. As the prints were stored during this time, the color and clarity remains strong. Additionally, the fourteen mounted prints were used as an illustrated accompaniment to the original film treatment for Cinde Rella.

Explore Cormon's polaroids on Artsy, and place max bids on more than 200 artworks in Phillips: Photographs. Live bidding opens Monday, April 9th, at 10:00am ET.