< WATSON, THE MAESTRO – ALBERT WATSON PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION >
This retrospective of Albert Watson is his first major museum show here in Seoul, Korea, and the largest in Asia. Featuring more than 120 photographs going all the way back to 1967 and up to 2022, this collection showcases the life work of Albert Watson, well known as a master of fashion photography and often praised as being the Photographer of photographers.
The artwork in this exhibition is presented chronologically to highlight Watson’s significant accomplishments over a career spanning more than 50 years. Featuring iconic portrait photos of Alfred Hitchcock and Steve Jobs as well as stunning images of fashion supermodel Kate Moss, you are sure to find images that are both familiar and new. From spectacular landscape photographs of Morocco and the Las Vegas desert to significant artifacts including Tutankhamun’s glove and Alan Shepard's Apollo 14 Lunar Suit, this exhibition will take you on a visual journey back through time.
For decades now, Watson has continued to inspire us with his unprecedented and unique approach to photography. His photographic oeuvre seamlessly crosses over from the studio to nature and captures the essence of whatever it is that he finds at the other end of his camera lens. Through his kaleidoscopic sense of creativity, Watson conveys both a passion and compassion for the images he captures and what they reveal to us often borders between surrealism and subtlety. Ultimately, he sharpens our perception of the world around us and heightens our awareness of all its splendor and beauty.
Especially in today’s fast-paced world of advanced technology where digital imagery can be easily and instantaneously produced and modified, it is particularly insightful to take pause and reflect on how the analogue way of creating images can still be both contemporary and relevant. This exhibit offers us an opportunity to understand the entire process of what it takes to produce a single image, which includes the ideation, setup, shooting, editing, and handmade developing of each photograph.
Come in and explore the world of Albert Watson as he takes us on an extraordinary adventure through fashion and landscapes, still-lifes, and portraiture. Transcending both commercial and fine art genres, Watson leaves us with a greater appreciation of his signature style and an understanding of what it takes to be a Maestro of Photography.
Albert Watson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1942. He first studied graphic design at the University of Dundee before moving on to film and television at the Royal College of Art in London.
In 1970, he moved to LA from London with his family where he began taking photos, primarily as a hobby. His shooting of the legendary film director, Alfred Hitchcock for the Christmas cover of Harper’s BAZAAR in 1973, turned out to be a seminal moment in his professional career. From that point, Watson’s stature in the fashion photography world began to take off.
Unlike many others, though, Watson didn’t stop at being a successful fashion photographer collaborating exclusively with celebrities. While continuing to take on commercial photography projects in fashion and art, he also pursued multiple personal projects involving the shooting of landscapes, portraits, and still lifes. By crisscrossing over various genres and subject matters, Watson has steadfastly pursued his artistic drive to capture real beauty wherever he can find it.
While most amateurs and professionals alike have move on to the digital world of photography, Albert Watson continues to use vintage film and prefers to manually control the amount of light and the temperature in order to portray unfiltered and natural images. Indeed, creating such stylish and contemporary photography using vintage film is what sets his work apart and keeps the demand high not only for his featured work in fashion magazines but also in art museums and galleries around the world.
Photo District News named Watson amongst the top 20 most influential photographers in the world along with Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. In addition to the many other honors and recognition Watson has received, he was awarded the Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal and Honorary Fellowship in 2010. And for his significant ‘services to photography’, Queen Elizabeth II awarded Watson with an Order of the British Empire in 2015.
Albert Watson is now 80 years old. He remains actively involved in producing his photographic artwork in New York, and never passes up an opportunity to take on an adventure and stay connected to the world.
00. A SCOTSMAN IN LA
Showcasing Watson’s work prior to the launch of his career into commercial photography.
Albert Watson moved to LA with his family in 1970 and soon began traveling around the U.S taking photos initially as a hobby. His early work conveys his understanding and knowledge of graphic design and cinematography that he had studied in college. In this early period of his work, Watson spent a lot of time exploring different ways to find expression through photography. These experiences later formed the foundation of his signature style.
Watson’s unique style grabbed the attention of the European fashion magazine Harper’s BAZAAR, which led to his first session for commercial photography. The success of this test resulted in his first cover for the Christmas edition in the winter of 1973. In this now legendary image, Watson photographed Alfred Hitchcock holding a dead goose with a ribbon around its neck. It was his first celebrity portrait and, in retrospect, launched his entry into fashion photography both in LA and New York.
02. All about Watson
Here, we can observe the broad range of Watson’s crossover masterpieces ranging from portraits, landscapes, and still-lifes to experimental photography, and more. His lifelong passion for his work is presented in chronological order without consideration of any categories based on genre or location.
03. +19 COLORS OF SKIN
Watson not only captures sensuality and enchantment but even humor in his work of nude photography. His fetish projects often borderline between being masterpieces and cartoons form a timeless mixed genre through a combination of his sophisticated technique, delicate juxtapositions, and rich expressions in texture. There is little need for fancy devices or décor to enhance or augment Watson’s powerful images.
04. BEHIND THE SCENES
Here, we share with you the untold stories behind eight of Watson’s most iconic pieces, including how each project was conceived and how each production was processed including behind the scene stories, test photos, and interview clips.
With this more in-depth and holistic understanding, we can now take a closer look at we now have greater insight into his unique approach and his love and philosophy for photography.
05. WATSON STUDIO
This is what a professional photographer’s studio is really like. The one replicated here is filled with Watson’s test photos and Polaroid photos. Audiovisuals and photos are incorporated to explain the step-by-step process of photo shooting in real life. Here, you can become experience what being a photographer is really like. Come and explore the set filled with actual photo-shooting equipment.
06. DIGITAL RUNWAY
In this section, we present some additional artwork of Watson’s that we were unable to physically bring to the exhibit.
By combining his artwork with some experimental music that he himself selected and mixed with an audio producer, Albert Watson has one more touching story that he would like to share with us.