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Grubman Wedding, NYC #9-11
Stephanie Seymour, D'Orazio Wedding #13-35
photograph, black and white, popular culture, documentary, narrative,gelatin silver print, work on paper, lives of the rich and famous, fashion, celebrity event, haute couture, slice of life, decorative items, super model, decadance, Vermeer painting as background, celebration, photo journalist, lifestyle, ambiguous, facade, half-concealed, satire, observation, celebrity
description

The two works of Fink’s chosen from the Mendel Art Gallery  collectionTo collect is to accumulate objects. A collection is an accumulation of objects. A collector is a person who makes a collection. (Artlex.com)  shown here are examples of the empathy Fink employs even when photographing the rich and famous. A frequent photographer of the fashion season in New York City, Fink is no stranger to haute couture (“high fashion”) and the money and celebrity that is part of that atmosphere. But Grubman Wedding, NYC #9-11 and Stephanie Seymour, D’Orazio Wedding #13-35 do not depict wealth as a source of pleasure, but rather as a source of concern.

Notice the faces in these two different but equally haunting photographs. The man in Grubman Wedding is shown concealed by part of the table centerpiece. He is wearing a tuxedo, and is seated with other wealthy people - there is a woman to the right of him whose face we can only barely see. Both of these people are hidden behind the flowers, candles and crystal which decorate the space, lost in their own material wealth. While we can see that the woman is smiling, the man looks concerned, or perhaps cautious, as though he has positioned himself behind the object in order to escape attention. His expression is one of being mildly frightened.

In Stephanie Seymour, we see the famous supermodel sitting on a bed in a hotel room. To the left of her, on the bed, are pieces of clothing and accessories, the “uniform,” so to speak, of the supermodel. To her right is a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket; add to this the fact that she is smoking and we get the impression of both the paradise and the prison of the celebrity lifestyle. There is a man behind her, although we can make out little about him and he seems to fade into the background. On the back wall of the room is a  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (Artlex.com)  (or a representation of a painting) of a woman. We cannot see the details of what she is working on, but it is clear that she is consumed by working with her hands and it appears as though she is smiling. This is quite the opposite of Seymour’s demeanour, as she gazes upwards with a look of disappointment on her face. Rather than focusing on what she has before her, like the woman in the  paintingWorks of art made with paint on a surface. Often the surface, also called a support, is either a tightly stretched piece of canvas or a panel. How the ground (on which paint is applied) is prepared on the support depends greatly on the type of paint to be used. Paintings are usually intended to be placed in frames, and exhibited on walls, but there have been plenty of exceptions. Also, the act of painting, which may involve a wide range of techniques and materials, along with the artist's other concerns which effect the content of a work. (Artlex.com)  is doing, she is looking up and away, as though she longs for something that is out of her reach.

Add to this the fact that both images reference weddings in their titles, and we realize that Fink is showing us the fact that what appears to be a celebration or a success for those on the outside, looking in, can sometimes be a disappointment for those on the inside, looking out.

additional resources Things to Think About
  • There are often news stories about celebrities being in trouble with drugs or alcohol. Does the celebrity lifestyle encourage these addictions, or are these cases of addiction only publicized because the victims are celebrities?
Studio Activity

Imagine that you are a celebrity

  • Write a story, poem, or song about what you are famous for and what you have to do as a celebrity that you don’t like or that you are uncomfortable with.
  • Are the things that make you uncomfortable related to the reason you are famous, or just to being famous in general?
  • Do you have to travel, or to seem to enjoy things you really don’t?

You are the photographer

Imagine that you are Larry Fink taking the photographs of Grubman Wedding, NYC #9-11 and Stephanie Seymour, D’Orazio Wedding #13-35.

  • Write a story that describes what you see that isn’t shown in these pictures
  • Why are these things or people there, and how might their inclusion affect the way in which we think of the photographs?
References

Stephen Cohen Gallery.  Under the Surface, Exhibition write-up.  Stephen Cohen Gallery, Los Angeles, California, 2005.

Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning