David Seidner was a photographer who used his immense talent and cultural knowledge to draw on the past and create modern, yet timeless, beautiful images.
He was only 42 years old when he passed away in 1999, but he left us an amazing portfolio of his work (self portrait above, 1992). He was a perfectionist—always looking for the master technique in capturing his exquisite images.
Above: Ann Duong, 1999...a muse and frequent model
As soon as one complicated technical process was perfected, Seidner would move on to the next.
Above: Pink Orchid, 1999
He was one of those rare photographers able to create both commercial and artistic work—without compromising his own artistic integrity.
Above: Dancers, c. 1987.
This gentleman peacock left Los Angeles, when he was just 17—for fame and fortune in Paris. In Paris, he immersed himself in Parisian culture, nightlife, and the world of fashion. He photographed his first magazine cover at age 19, and had his first one-man show at 21.
Above: Lips, 1988. When Mr. Peacock saw the paintings of artist Rupert Shrive—I thought of David Seidner's photographs.
The house of Yves Saint Laurent signed him for a two-year exclusive advertising contract when he was just 22 years old.
Pierre Bergé said to him: "David, if you can photograph a woman, the Eiffel Tower, and a bunch of roses at the same time—then the picture for the new fragrance, Paris, is yours." He did, and this photo (1983) would be seen in magazine ads across the world.
Above: Helena Bonham Carter, 1998.
David Seidner's photos were frequently built around themes: fragmented bodies, nudes, and portraits.
Above: Francine Howell for Azzedine Alaia, 1986
He combined a sense of formalism, sensuality and emotion in his work. Always experimenting and mastering techniques including layering Ektachromes, over-printing negatives, and interposing sheets of painted glass.
David Seidner photographed over 60 portraits of artists for his series, Faces of Contemporary Art—over a period of 15 years. Each portrait was painstakingly photographed in exactly the same context, alignment and background size.
Above: Portraits of artists Cindy Sherman, Richard Serra, and Louise Bourgeois.
He used an extraordinarily complicated printing process on “Arche” paper to achieve a dense black. The portraits were shown as a group in 1996 in Paris at La Maison Européenne de la Photographie.
Above: A shot for Yves Saint Laurent, c. 1983.
Mr. Peacock loves Mr. Seidner's work from the 1980's shot at his Paris home/studio. He used used metal, wire, broken pieces of mirror, glass bricks, paint brushes, black grease, and whatever else he found rummaging through second hand shops and hardware stores.
Above: Mr. Peacock loves this image shot for Yves Saint Laurent.
According to his longtime assistant, Gilles Jaroslaw, “He was like a scientist, inventing new things all the time and constantly looking for ways to push the limits, using multi-exposures, mirrors, long exposures, angles, lighting, etc."*
*Quoted from The Independent.
Above: Honor Fraser, 1994.
In the 1990’s he shot a series of beautiful portraits inspired by Sargent paintings.
Above: Dancer, Stephen Petronio, 1999.
He also photographed a series of nudes for an exhibition at New York’s Robert Miller Gallery, which were also collected for his book, Nudes.
Mr. Seidner was inspired by his love of Greek Antiquity and photographed his nude models in sculptural stances.
If you’re in New York this summer, stop by the International Center of Photography and check out the exhibit, David Seidner-Paris Fashions 1945. In 1944, the war-battered French couture industry decided to revive its international reputation by conceiving a small exhibition of 230 dolls, entitled Théâtre de la Mode, in which the major fashion designers of the day created outfits for small wire-frame dolls.
After the exhibit, the dolls disappeared, but resurfaced in 1990. David Seidner, because of his pioneering work with French fashion and historical gowns, was asked to photograph the Théâtre de la Mode dolls. You can buy the book, Théâtre de la Mode, with the David Seidner photographs—here.
ICP will exhibit fifteen of Seidner's color photographs of the dolls, along with one of the original dolls. The show runs May 15 through September 6, 2009.
Above: A portrait of Tina Chow, 1981 A muse of David Seidner (and a favorite of Mr. Peacock!)
David Seidner’s commercial work included fashion shoots for the French and Italian editions of Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Vanity Fair and The New York Times Magazine, and advertising campaigns for Emmanuel Ungaro, Lanvin, Christian Dior, John Galliano, Bill Blass, and of course, Yves Saint Laurent.
Above: Taya Thurman, Mme. Gres, 1980.
His artistic work encompassed shows at the Pompidou Centre and La Maison Europeenne de la Photographie in Paris, the Whitney Museum in New York, and the publication of several books. If you don’t already own a David Seidner book, add one to your library today. You can view an archive of Mr. Seidner’s work at the International Center of Photography. Thank you David Seidner for your pursuit of beauty and perfection!