Vito Schnabel Projects presents Pictures From Another Time: Photographs by Bob Colacello, 1976 – 82, an exhibition of photographs taken by Bob Colacello during the years he served as editor of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine. Pictures From Another Time features approximately 150 vintage and unique prints—most never previously exhibited—made with Colacello’s Minox 35 EL camera, the first miniature camera capable of making full frame 35 millimeter photographs. Works on view reflect the societal fluidity and social mobility of “the Me Decade,” an era of emerging liberation movements in American culture. As both a favored confidant and detached observer of some of the most significant figures of that time, from politicians, tycoons, and fellow journalists, to artists, writers, fashion designers, and movie stars, Colacello was uniquely positioned to create an enduring portrait of the Seventies.
Ingrid Sischy, Colacello’s successor as editor of Interview, wrote of his photographs: “It was a world where classifications and categories seem to fall by the wayside…Where black and white, gay and straight, traditional society and new society, uptown and downtown, the powerful and the powerless, and young and old, all danced under the same disco ball.”
Colacello was in the middle of it all—from late night revels at the era-defining clubs Studio 54 and Regine’s, to the inaugurations of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan—armed always with his Minox. Matte black, and no larger than a pack of cigarettes, the tiny camera could be slipped in and out of a pocket to capture an instant. Colacello’s images of the Seventies are situated at a cultural turning point, when the private hours of public figures still hovered within a realm of mystique that seems distant in the internet age.
About the Exhibition
In addition to serving as editor of Interview, Colacello would accompany Warhol on trips to Europe, where the artist had numerous exhibitions at leading museums and was fêted by the grand hostesses of Paris, London, and Rome. On view in the exhibition are photographs from a 1976 trip to Bonn, Germany, with Warhol and Fred Hughes, the artist’s business manager and eventual founder of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Warhol was in the West German capital to shoot Polaroid images of renowned statesman and former German Chancellor Willy Brandt for a silkscreen portrait commissioned by his Social Democratic Party. In one photograph from that trip, Warhol is relaxing in his hotel room; in another, Brandt is seen posing for Andy’s camera.
Two years earlier, in 1974, Colacello had introduced OUT, a parody society gossip column that, as he has said, “meant ‘going out’ not ‘coming out.’” The column covered both public and private events, from movie premieres and fashion shows to exclusive Park Avenue dinner parties where reporters and photographers were rarely welcomed. But no one seemed to mind when Colacello snapped the occasional candid close-up (his Minox stayed in focus without adjustment between three and seven feet), nor mind when his overexposed and thus age-defying images appeared on the pages of Interview. This, of course, was long before the internet revolution, in a time when print when still reigned and the public rushed to the newsstands to get the latest issues of their favorite magazines.
Colacello’s images stand apart from conventional party and society photojournalism via a deceptive casualness that disguises a highly precise and deliberate approach to such formal elements as composition and exposure. His signature off-kilter angles create a sense of immediacy, and even suggest the inebriation—literal or creative—of the moments captured. Many of the scenes in the photographs on view are multi-layered, with one figure partially obscuring another: a hand is waved in front of a face here, an extravagant hairdo blocks half the face of a world-famous personage there, in visual analogs for the social fluidity that emerged in and helped define the Seventies.
Colacello’s Minox was eventually replaced by an even smaller Canon. With his “spy camera” ever present, he traveled to Venice, Houston, Key West, Santa Monica, Monte Carlo, Rio de Janeiro, Gstaad, Tehran, and the Amazon, among other locales exotic or mundane. Among the events captured in these places and seen in Pictures From Another Time are the weddings of new generation society swans Marisa Berenson, Maria Niarchos, and Princess Minnie de Beauvau-Craon, in Beverly Hills, Deauville, and Alsace-Lorraine, respectively. Here, too, are photographs of a remarkable gathering of the international jet set in Acapulco, to celebrate Braniff Airlines commissioning Halston to design the interiors of its newest planes. Lady Bird Johnson, Henry Kissinger, Betsy Bloomingdale, Jerry Zipkin, Baby Jane Holzer, and Pat Cleveland are among the powerful and beautiful captured there by Colacello. Perhaps most remarkable and notable as counterpoints are Colacello’s spontaneous portraits of Warhol, his friend and mentor, caught in rare private moments, without his famous affect as enthusiastic companion to the stars.
A noted journalist, Colacello is at heart a documentarian sensitive to his times and exquisitely aware of change. “I used to see my pictures as a subform of sociology. Now they seem more like archeology.”
Pictures From Another Time : Photographs by Bob Colacello, 1976 – 82
May 3 – June21, 2019
Vito Schnabel Projects, New York
43 Clarkson Street, 1A, New York, NY 10014