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Steven Klein (b. 1961) is an American photographer based in New York.
After studying painting at the Rhode Island School of Design, he moved into the field of photography. Klein shot high-profile advertising campaigns for various clients including Calvin Klein, D&G, Alexander McQueen and Nike and is a regular contributor to magazines including American and French Vogue, i-D, Numero, W and Arena. His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions, most recently at the Gagosian Gallery, California and the Brancolini Grimaldi Gallery in Florence. Klein is well known for his W Magazine editorials with Madonna, Tom Ford, Brad Pitt and numerous others. Bio
Klein has also made a career of flouting the usual rules of celebrity portraiture. The stars he shoots often seem to be more at the service of his art than their own image management. In positioning himself as a sort of post–Annie Leibovitz auteur, he’s been able to persuade stars to pose for intensely private, erotically charged—and sometimes not particularly flattering—images that he then releases into the most public and mainstream of forums.
“It’s like, maybe, you know, Brad and Madonna are two of the biggest icons in the world,” says Klein. “But I don’t connect with them because of their standing. I’ve connected with them because of their way of morphing into my pictures, and being willing to go there with me.”
“There,” in a Steven Klein image, is typically a place with a dark, foreboding aura. Sometimes the mood of his photographs is so emotionally isolating that it can seem like he conducts all his shoots in airtight bunkers buried under a desert floor somewhere. The paradox of Klein’s status as a superstar photographer of superstars—he’s created risqué, iconic images of not just Pitt and Madonna but Justin Timberlake, Ethan Hawke, Naomi Campbell, and others—is that he’s successfully selling a darker version of celebrity at a particularly idiotic, giddy juncture in pop culture, just as US Weekly is flying off newsstands and the treacly showtunery of American Idol is topping the ratings. Fashion Photographer Seeks Rough Play'A lot of fashion photographers are very good with women but don't seem to create the fantasy as well with men. Actually, I think Steven is much better with men than women. There is a very violent and sexual undertone.' The Man Who Shapes Fame
People think fashion photography is glamorous, but it's always a facade. If you look at ads, people always look perfect. They're taking 18-year-old girls and retouching them to death - and they were young and beautiful to begin with. Glamour doesn't really exist. Steven Klein's Best Shot
Don't ask photographer Steven Klein to explain his aggressively baffling new art collaboration with Madonna at SoHo's Deitch Projects Gallery. "I never have any special meaning to my work," the artist announces while walking through the installation with his dog. X-STaTIC PRo=CeSS
Klein doesn’t tell celebrities what to do or what he wants. He never tells them to take their clothes off or look a certain way, he says. A celebrity will approach him, tell him that they click with his vision, and they dream up a concept together, a performance. That’s quite something: the world of truly stellar celebrity is patrolled by sharky agents who want their clients to look good. But Klein’s edginess is perhaps acceptable. It hints at a dark side to the celebs, but with such overt theatricality that the brand won’t be genuinely endangered. A Cut Above the Rest
Steven Klein Studio
W Magazine Archives
Design Scene Archives
Pic Compilation (vid)
Brad & Angie (vid)