Interview by CHRIS AUSTOPCHUK
The exhibition titled LA VIE EN ROSE is a limited edition series of photographs by Rose Hartman play with ideas of both pleasure and infamy in a historical context. A certain joie de vivre, or joy for living, is immediately evident in the work, most of which was shot amidst the decadent landscape of New York City’s nightlife and art world culture of the late 1970s and 1980s —and continuing to early 2000.
On view at the Revelation Gallery / 224 WAVERLY PLACE
Through January 31st, 2019
When was the first time you picked up a camera?
In late 70’s. I used an Olympus with a 35 to 105 mm lens, and wide-angled 28” lens-and shot b/w negatives or fuji slides. Now i use Lumix or Cannon digital camera.
Have you had any formal training? Do you have any mentors, or work which inspired your own photography?
I adore the brilliant William Klein. A high point was attending his retrospective at the Polka Gallery in Paris last March.
I have taken several workshops (Sun Valley Workshop; ICP (lighting) and endless lectures in museums and photo galleries. I also visit photo exhibits wherever I travel (most recently, Paris, Mexico City, Lisbon, Beijing, to name a few locales.
Left: Carolina Herrera. Right: Dovanna, David Croland & D.D. Ryan.
What drives you to do what you do?
Photos are like my children (I never have had any); I am and have been passionate about photography. Recently, I have been shooting a portfolio of store windows with lifelike stylish mannequins. During my long, 40 plus year career, I have pursued subjects with personal style. From style icon Daphne Guinness to a young fashionista strolling through the Marais in Paris.
How do you end up being at so many parties, epochal events?
I either receive invitations from pr people who I’ve established a relationship with, or I do extensive research. If an event interests me, I will contact the pr person (known or unknown to me), or on rare occasions, simply stroll into a private opening – exuding enough self-confidence to allow me to join the party.
Andy Warhol & Lou Reed.
Left: Armani models. Right: Mick Jagger.
Mikhail Baryshnikov & Jaggers at Studio 54.
What are the characteristics of your most iconic photography?
I manage to get below the public facade to reveal the humanity of my subjects, I always try to be a fly on the wall so I can watch my subjects and only shoot when the time is right, not a second later or 1 second before. I am looking for that “decisive moment”, as Henry Cartier Bresson, the French humanist photographer, whom I greatly admire called them! Often, I am shooting in a very crowded situation. Nevertheless, I block out the unimportant elements with my eye, and then snap the shutter. Hopefully, my photos symbolize an epoch of unlimited hedonism and incomparable style.
Your photography and Studio 54 are inextricably connected; were there any other clubs or events that you enjoyed using as source material?
I also shot at Xenon (Studio 54’s competitor disco) and downtown clubs (Area, MK, Mudd Club) filled with truly original fashionistas dressed to impress.
I also shot many Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute galas (in pre- Anna Wintour days) when I was free to wander through the party-of-the-year inside rather than being outside on the steps. I am not interested in shooting celebrities in front of commercial banners, i am interested in a moment.
How did you start shooting behind the scenes at fashion shows?
After my photo book, BIRDS OF PARADISE, AN INTIMATE VIEW OF NEW YORK was published in 1980 by Delta Books, I was invited to various fashion shows (all took place in different locations around NY – theaters, designer ateliers, restaurants – with invitations to shoot models dressing and undressing backstage. Only a few photographers were interested in backstage, so I had terrific access.
Left: Diana Vreeland & Jerry Hall. Right: Grace Jones.
You seem to thrive in crowded, chaotic scenes; do you do any private portrait work, or have any personal artistic pursuits?
I have had varied portrait assignments through the years, but my reputation rests on my “intimate images” in crowded, somewhat chaotic situations where I can observe and capture the “souls” of my subjects. Wherever I’ve traveled I have focused on shooting locals as well as architectures.
Left: Diane Von Furstenberg & Barry Diller at Studio 54. Right: Daphne.
Left: Jerry Hall & Andy Warhol. Right: Andy Warhol at Studio 54.
Left: Kate-Moss. Right: Mick & Bianca Jagger.
Who would you like to shoot than you haven’t yet?
The phenomenal Cate Blanchett and the magnetic Matthew Mcconaughey.