Through the Lens: Icons of Contemporary Art will include photos of significant artists from the 20th Century alongside a portrait series of renowned Abstract Canadian-American painter Agnes Martin (1912-2004), who is soon to be exhibited at Tate Modern in celebration of her five-decades spanning career. An iconic portrait of the artist by Gorgoni has been selected for the cover of the exhibition catalogue as well as the advertising campaign to promote the long-awaited retrospective of this incredibly influential 20th Century artist.
During the late 1960s, Gorgoni was commissioned by the Italian weekly L’Espresso to create a photo story on the vibrant New York City art scene. Through his close contact with legendary art dealer Leo Castelli, Gorgoni was introduced to all the key artists of the day including Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Gorgoni created a series of candid and telling portraits of artists who would become leading figures in the art world for decades to come. He captured his sitters in a variety of manners, both in posed and spontaneous settings. The intensity with which the artists showed his sitters resonated through the art world and captured the attention of world-leading publications, resulting in a highly successful career as an international photojournalist.
From the mid-1970s onwards, Gorgoni’s photographs graced the covers of publications such as Time, Life, Newsweek and The New York Times, and continues to do so up to this day.
Through his portraits of artistic icons such as Warhol and Willem De Kooning, Gorgoni captures with extraordinary honesty the humanity behind artists who in turn have inspired generations of artists to come. His portrayal of the new social aspects of the contemporary American frontier, led chiefly by a young group of artists, directed him towards the creation of a particularly personal style of photography, which he continues to implement in both his portraits and photo-journalist works.
Gorgoni’s photographs have been exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world, from Stockholm to San Francisco and from Tokyo to Venice. The exhibition with ContiniArtUK, the first of its kind in the United Kingdom, will focus chiefly on the icons of contemporary art he has taken over the past four decades. The exhibition will offer a unique opportunity to look through the lens of a photographer who captured numerous pivotal and deeply personal moments in the lives of the most celebrated artists of our time.
ContiniArtUK will hold an opening preview of the exhibition on 2nd June from 2-8 pm at the gallery at the 105 New Bond Street premises. The exhibition will run until the 10th of June 2015.
About the Artist
Gianfranco Gorgoni was born in Rome and settled in Milan during the mid-1960s. There, he set up his own studio after working one year as a photographer’s assistant. His first major project concerned a photographic essay of a freight ship’s journey to America, a project that was also to pay for his fare. In 1968, Gorgoni arrived in New York City and began to take an interest in the Open and Living Theatre, resulting in a long-term collaboration with the Italian weekly L’Espresso. After a few months in the city, the photographer commenced a lengthy travel series, primarily concerned with documenting the numerous American Hippy communes that were so widespread at the time.
This journey resulted in what was to become one of his greatest artistic achievements of his early career: Jimi Hendrix playing the American Anthem at Woodstock in August of 1969.
Back in New York, Gorgoni came into contact with Leo Castelli, a leading art dealer at the time, who introduced him to many of the artists he represented in the city. After getting acquainted with leading artists such as Warhol, Rauschenberg, Johns, Lichtenstein and Oldenburg, Gorgoni started frequenting a pub called Max’s Kansas City, a popular hangout for young artists and intellectuals. Here, Gorgoni first met with other important artists such as Morris, Flavin and Serra, many of which he documented with his camera over the years.
Besides gaining international critical acclaim for his photographic portraits, Gorgoni also made name for himself as a highly successful photojournalist. His photographs have graced covers of many internationally distributed publications, including Time, Life, Newsweek and The New York Times.