Fashion, Art & Photography Meet in the Work of Nick Knight
Photo: Nick Knight, Campbell, 2007. Hand-coated pigment print, 152,4 x 228,6 cm ( 60 x 90 in. ), Edition of 5, plus 2 AP.
“I think photography has been wrestling with a burden of telling the truth, which I don’t think it was ever particularly good at,” British artist Nick Knight observes. Born in 1958 Knight has become one of the world’s most influential photographers, consistently challenging conventional ideas of beauty in his work.
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In 1982, while a student at Bournemouth, Knight published the seminal book, Skinhead. His study of the underground youth culture drew the attention of i-D editor Terry Jones, to create 100 portraits for the magazine’s fifth-anniversary issue. From there, Knight’s star rose, as he began to receive editorial and advertising projects for Yohji Yamamoto, Alexander McQueen, Christian Dior, Jil Sander, and Yves Saint Laurent, among other notable figures in the industry. He also began collaborating with musicians, shooting album covers for Björk, David Bowie, Kylie Minogue, Paul Weller, Gwen Stefani, and Massive Attack, as well as videos for Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” and Kanye West’s “Bound 2.”
In celebration of his incredible career, Christopher Guy Galerie, Zürich, presents Nick Knight, a solo exhibition on view through June 4, 2016. The exhibition features his most iconic works form the past two decades, as well as an assemblage of award-winning fashion films made under his company, SHOWstudio, a fashion website.
Knight founded SHOWstudio in 2000, with the aim of “showing the entire creative process, from conception to completion.” In doing so he became a pioneer of the fashion film, redefining the relationship between artist, designer, model, and fashion. As Knight reveals, “It is very tricky now to really, honestly call yourself a photographer because a lot of what I do doesn’t adhere to the rules of photography. For example, with the introduction of digital technology and the more frequent use of that in the creation of the image, you are really not following the rules of photography any more.”
Indeed, Knight’s work is changing the photography landscape, pushing the aesthetic and technological boundaries of the medium. As the world changes, Knight keeps pace, even becoming a pacesetter with his dynamic, fluid, and innovative approach to the creation of the image. The exhibition includes many of Knight’s most well known works, including images of Tatjana Patitz, Naomi Campbell, and Kate Moss. Drawing inspiration from fashion legends including illustrator Erte and photographer Lillian Bassman, Knight incorporates painting into his work to pioneer an entirely new genre of fashion photography. Works like Alexia (2012), featuring model Alexia Wight, combine classic, high fashion glamour with a futuristic, technical aesthetic to create a work that speaks to the past, present, and future at the same time.
His commitment to advancing the medium is evident throughout his work. Not one to rest on his past successes, Knight continuously challenges himself to stay au courrant. He reveals, “ I think, really, you’re sucked into photography when you first start doing it because it’s a very easy medium to do. Most cameras are pretty good and you’ll get an image which is coherent and looks like images you have seen pretty much straight away. It’s not like learning something like sculpture or painting where you have to learn a discipline beforehand. You pick it up and it’s there, it’s easy.”
That is, unless Knight gets his hands on it first.
All Photos: © Nick Knight, courtesy of Christopher Guy Galerie, Zürich.
Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer, curator, and brand strategist. There is nothing she adores so much as photography and books. A small part of her wishes she had a proper library, like in the game of Clue. Then she could blaze and write soliloquies to her in and out of print loves.