You can't talk about fashion photography or fashion film in 2013 without mentioning Inez and Vinoodh. The initimable duo have been commissioned by every luxury brand and major magazine since 1986, capturing some of the most beloved, widely-seen images in fashion. The two met at the Art Academy in Amsterdam and initially began releasing series of fine artworks that challenged ideas of beauty and the female form using digital manipulation.
After channeling these explorations into fashion photography, they quickly became an in-demand commercial entity. Always retaining their cognizance of technological advances in the medium, and a unique way of implementing them, they maintain a fine art aspect in their work and have earned legendary status in their lifetime. They continue to innovate by examining abstraction, context, and form with their most recent, self-titled art exhibition at Gagosian Gallery in Paris (runs through March 9, 2013).
Read our interview with Inez and Vinoodh to learn the roots of the exhibition's concept, their favorite city in the world, and the advice they have for aspiring photographers.
What influenced your decision to sign on with Gagosian Gallery after already having an illustrious fine art career and multiple retrospectives?
The philosophy behind the gallery, and its multiple locations around the world, fits very well with our way of life and the way we work. The idea of showing our work all over the world with a lot of flexibility and within the broad scope of their roster is what appealed to us.
We are obsessed with turning an image of a human being into an abstract work through the context of the images that it is accompanied by.
Is there any particular reason your first exhibition is at the Paris location? Do you plan for it to travel to other Gagosian galleries around the world?
There is no specific reason other than the fact that our fashion roots are clearly based in Paris. Pieces from this show will travel to other Gagosian Galleries with the addition of new works.
Through this exhibition, and others you've done in the past, it appears that the subjects you've photographed have become your muses—James Franco, Drew Barrymore, Lady Gaga, and others. Is this often the case and who have you especially enjoyed photographing repeatedly?
We photograph the same people over time. As we get to know them better, the images change. Once we are interested in photographing someone, we remain interested in their life and how they change. Lady Gaga is especially giving and inspiring.
In the preview of the exhibition, you said that "every picture we take is a self-portrait-a picture of how we feel at that moment in our lives." In this sense, what does the entire Inez and Vinoodh exhibition at Gagosian Paris represent, as a self-reflexive moment in your lives?
The triptychs are a return to a focus on form. We are interested in abstraction. We are obsessed with turning an image of a human being into an abstract work through the context of the images that it is accompanied by.
Do you continue to enjoy working together as a duo? What do each of you bring to the photographic and creative process individually and as one?
Yes. Our process is a constant bouncing back and forth of ideas.
Everything can be art. It all depends on context.
You've often been credited with adopting methods of digital manipulation early and transforming its use to humanize your subjects. Now that many photographers have made this transition, and done the same, what do you value in your abilities that propels you farther in the genre? Is it a continual adaptation of new methods and technology or something more?
We constantly try out new methods to achieve the piece that we have in mind. It is always fueled by research, and right now that is working towards ways to abstract certain works.
What inspired the flower photographs in this exhibition, and why juxtapose them with portraits of people?
We are obsessed with flowers and various styles and methods of flower arranging. There are so many amazing photographs of flowers that have been made throughout history. Apart from the nod to form, color, and abstraction, we imagined that by stripping them to their essence, it is similar to how we photograph people. They are Portraits. Icons.
Your film work for various labels, including musicians Lady Gaga and Bjork, seems just as important and influential as your photography. Do you ever plan to exhibit your films with Gagosian or in a gallery setting soon? Do you have a video that you consider your most "successful" or widely received to date?
Both our videos for Dior and for Louis Vuitton have over 20 million hits, which is huge for fashion films. At the moment we are dreaming of making a rock opera motion picture.
What is your favorite city in the world?
What is the most unexpected thing or moment that has happened to you on this journey?
The fact that our work reaches and speaks to so many people. Inspiring people is the best feeling.
What is one thing every aspiring photographer or artist should know?
1. Stay in school as long as you can.
2. It takes at least 10 years to find your language.
3. Everything can be art. It all depends on context.
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