Steven Kasher Gallery is pleased to present Three Masters of Erotic Photography, a survey of black and white nudes from the 1960s, by celebrated photographers Sam Haskins, Francis Giacobetti, and Kishin Shinoyama. The show reunites three artists featured in the controversial exhibition and book Vier Meister der Erotischen Fotografie (Four Masters of Erotic Photography), which debuted at Cologne’s Photokina in 1970. It includes over 50 vintage photographic prints collected and published by the late Walther H. Schünemann and rediscovered by his son after five decades in storage. The prints in this exhibition include the most revolutionary and most iconic work of each of the three photographers: the Cowboy Kate series of Haskins, the Birth, Death Valley and Twin series of Shinoyama, and the Jane Birkin portraits of Giacobetti.
Haskins, Giacobetti and Shinoyama produced the most influential 1960s erotic photography in their respective countries. They created a revolution in artistic nude photography by rejecting the Playboy clichés, by eschewing the statuesque models and stereotypical poses to be found in the publications of the era. To quote Sam Haskins, “These were real live girls and they were having fun.” By rejecting the distinctions between art and what was then considered pornography, these artists helped usher in a new erotic world order. In addition to reawakening interest in the flowering of 60s sexual revolutions and its visual correlatives, this exhibition sheds light on contemporary anxieties surrounding feminists and feminism.
Phillippe Garner, the just-retired International Head of Photographs and 20th Century Decorative Arts and Design at Christie’s testifies to the broad and continuing influence of Sam Haskins’ Cowboy Kate pictures:
I was in my teens when Cowboy Kate was first published. I fell in love instantly…. I was smitten by the relaxed sexiness of the girl and by the vibrancy of the image. There was a sense of spontaneity, a freshness that struck a powerful chord…. Kate appeared totally comfortable in her skin…. Times have changed considerably, but the book has lost nothing of its impact – Kate and her siren sisters have proved themselves eternal.
Sam Haskins (1926-2009) was a British photographer born and raised in South Africa. The publication of his books Five Girls (1962), Cowboy Kate & Other Stories (1964), November Girl (1967) and Haskins Posters (1972) earned him international recognition for a new kind of nude photography. Cowboy Kate & Other Stories was highly influential at the time, sold roughly a million copies worldwide and won the Prix Nadar in 1964. Cowboy Kate & Other Stories had its place in photographic history cemented in 2005 when the International Center of Photography in New York included the book in their exhibition The Open Book: A History of the Photographic Book from 1878 to the Present. His work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions including at the National Portrait Gallery, Australia; National Theater, London; Pentax Forum, Tokyo; Stadtmuseum, Munich; and Museo d’Arte, Lugano.
Born in Marseilles in 1939, Francis Giacobetti is a world-renown photographer and filmmaker. He began his career as a staff photographer for Paris Match in 1957. Since the 1960s he has worked for various fashion publications including Vogue. In 1963 he became the art director of Lui Magazine, France’s answer to Playboy. In 1970 and 1971 he photographed two editions of the infamous Pirelli Calendar. In 1984, Giacobetti began a series of celebrity portraits comprising over 200 subjects, including Federico Fellini, Stephen Hawking, Francoise Sagan, Philippe Starck, and Yehudi Menuhin. In the fall of 1991, Giacobetti was introduced to Francis Bacon and subsequently created a 200-image portrait series of Bacon. The Bacon work became the subject of a solo show at Marlborough Gallery, London which traveled to the Art Institute of Chicago and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Giacobetti’s photographs for Issey Miyake were shown in solo exhibitions at the Tokyo Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. Giacobetti’s work has been shown in solo exhibitions worldwide including at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Louvre, Paris; Fondation Beyeler, Switzerland; Isetan Museum of Art, Tokyo and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. A monograph, Francis Bacon by Francis Giacobetti was published by Christie’s in 2005.
Born in Tokyo in 1940, Kishin Shinoyama is one of Japan’s most famous photographers, known mainly for nude photo books of famous Japanese actresses and pop idols. He came into the limelight in 1961 when he received the APA Award from the Japan Advertising Photographer’s Association. In 1968 Shinoyama got his big break with Birth, a series of nudes shot on a beach in Okinawa and shown at the Ginza Nikon Salon in 1968. In 1970 Shinoyama was shown and published internationally, and was the subject of an essay by Yukio Mishima, the foremost Japanese author of that time. HIs portrait of Mishima as a bound and pierced St. Sebastian made shortly before the writer’s suicide is one of the best known of all Japanese photographs. In 1976, he represented Japan at the 37th Venice Biennale — the first time a solo exhibition format was adopted by the Japanese Pavilion. His 1991 nude book Santa Fe portraying top actress Rie Miyazawa spearheaded Japan’s lifting of the pubic hair ban in print media. It remains Japan’s best-selling photo book of all time with over 1.5 million copies sold. Shinoyama is active today as one of Japan’s most well-known photographers and is a recipient of many awards. He has had solo museum exhibitions at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum Kumamoto, and the Yokohama Museum of Art.
Three Masters of Erotic Photography
February 23 – April 15, 2017