Celebrities are instantly recognizable – or are they?
Staley Wise Gallery presents the exhibition Who’s Who, the concept is playful as the viewer is challenged to identify the celebrity in the photograph. Some are readily known by hair, hands, clothing, and posture. Some others are not so easy. Perhaps that’s where the fun comes in, and perhaps the real person emerges.
Sometimes, the element of disguise or concealment is a collaboration between artist and subject and reveals just as much as it hides. Ellen von Unwerth’s photograph of Lady Gaga illustrates this. Elvis Presley’s gait, Roy Lichtenstein’s paintbrush, and Michael Jordan’s heroic stature are also represented in images by Alfred Wertheimer, Abe Frajndlich, and Herb Ritts. Each image tells us something about its subject while being far from the traditional portrait.
Many of the works in the exhibition also isolate the characteristics and gestures which identify icons of entertainment, politics, and art – from Louis Armstrong’s lips and Elizabeth Taylor’s diamonds, to Marlene Dietrich’s endless legs to the weight of history on Martin Luther King’s shoulders. If eyes are windows to the soul, then Peggy Sirota’s and Phil Stern’s photographs of Brad Pitt and James Dean embody this.
Some of these famous personalities are easily known by just a fraction of the face – or even just a silhouette. Some may be impossible to guess. Finding out the hard to guess subject is also part of the fun.
To keep with the spirit of the exhibition, you will only see below the photographs of the gallery the photographer’s name and quotes by the subjects as they are displayed on the walls, below is the list of the sitters portrayed. We hope you will enjoy this guessing game:
#1 – Elvis Presley, Army GI leaves for Germany on USS Randall, Brooklyn, NY, 1958 by Alfred Wertheimer
#2 – Marlene Dietrich’s Legs, 1959 by Milton Greene
#3 – Louis Armstrong applies balm to his lips, Las Vegas, 1965 by John Loengard
#4 – Brad Pitt, Calabasas, 1994 by Peggy Sirota
#5 – Dolly Parton, Nashville, 1976 by Harry Benson
#6 – Martin Luther King Jr., Mississippi, 1966 by Harry Benson
#7 – Elizabeth Taylor, Malibu, 1991 by Herb Ritts
#8 – His Holiness The Dalai Lama (Hand), New York City, 1987 by Herb Ritts
#9 – Cher, Hollywood, 1991 by Herb Ritts
#10 – Lenny Kravitz, Shimmer, Code Magazine, 2001 by Stephanie Pfriender Stylander
#11 – Elton John: Egg On His Face, New York, 1999 by David LaChapelle
#12 – James Dean, 1955 by Phil Stern
#13 – Naomi Campbell, Paris, 1988 by Arthur Elgort
#14 – Gaga, Incognito, 2009 by Ellen von Unwerth
#15 – Andy Warhol with Polaroid Camera, circa 1970s by Anton Perich
#16 – Greta Garbo returns from Rizzoli Book Shop, New York City, 1978 by Ron Galella
#17 – Bob Dylan, New York, 1965 by Daniel Kramer
#18 – Sophia Loren at the Cannes Film Festival, France, 1955 by Edward Quinn
#19 – Barack Obama, Washington D.C., 2010 by Mark Seliger
#20 – John F. Kennedy Jr. for George Magazine, 1996 by Bert Stern
#21 – James Gandolfini + Cigar, June, 1999 by Michael O’Neill
#22 – Roy Lichtenstein, New York City, 1985 by Abe Frajndlich
#23 – Salvador Dali (Cheese), circa 1950 by Philippe Halsman
#24 – David Hockney, Los Angeles, 1999 by Peggy Sirota
#25 – Diana Vreeland’s Shoes, New York, VOGUE, 1981 by Deborah Turbeville
May 5 – June 24, 2023
100 Crosby Street
New York, NY 10012