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The HIFF Turns Its New Spotlight Feature ’The Artist’s Eye’ On Bruce Weber

Originally Posted: October 16, 2008

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The HIFF's "Artist's Eye" honored photographer and filmmaker Bruce Weber on Saturday, Oct. 18. Following the screening Weber sat for a Q&A with Rajendra (Raj) Roy. (Eileen Casey)

East Hampton - The 2008 Hamptons International Film Festival inaugurated a new Spotlight feature this year entitled "The Artist's Eye." This year's spotlight featured famed photographer, artist and filmmaker, Bruce Weber.

Premiering Saturday, the "Artist's Eye" was focused on Florida and Montauk resident Bruce Weber, photographic wonder of the iconic Calvin Klein and Polo Ralph Lauren black and white ad campaigns. Introduced by David Nugent of the HIFF, an obviously pleased Weber addressed the filled-to-capacity viewing room, introducing some members of the audience that he has closely collaborated with over the years as both a photographer and filmmaker, including producer Nan Bush, and many personal friends.

The viewing began with an extended 'teaser' of Weber's upcoming film "Nice Girls Don't Stay For Breakfast," offering a candid and revealing look at legendary movie actor, Robert Mitchum. Weber explained that his focus "is on lives that do not stop."

Photographer and filmmaker Bruce Weber. (Eileen Casey)

Also included in the montage were videos Weber has directed for The Pet Shop Boys, as well as advertising campaigns for Abercrombie & Fitch, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Polo Ralph Lauren and Pepe Jeans, among others, and - of course, numerous shorts and shots of dogs, dogs, dogs - Weber's obvious love for not only his own dogs (golden retrievers), but all dogs, is evident in his delightful ability to capture the innate playfulness, majesty and warmth of some very large Newfoundlands ("Gentle Giants"). As a professed animal lover, Weber believes animals represent a metaphor for peace.

Additionally, the viewing also included voiceovers by Weber whose refreshing honesty and insightfulness reveals pieces of his own personality and what drew him to become an artist. In particular, he discusses his early sexuality and childhood fantasies while dreaming of meeting Elizabeth Taylor, among the many who enthralled and influenced him. Creating scrapbooks from magazine spreads of the screen legends of his youth, he intertwines those images with his own rendition of the world of glamour and fashion.

Born in 1946, and raised in Greenburg, PA, Weber related a story of when he was wishing for an automobile from his parents as a birthday present, but "Instead I found a box with a pink bow that contained a camera - I think it was a Kodak instamatic," which fortuitously led him down a career path that has not faltered.

Concluding with "The Boy Artist" a new short directed by Weber, he sat for a Q&A with director and personal friend, Rajendra (Raj) Roy.

One question from an audience member who noted a juxaposition between Weber's portaryal of young, healthy, and happy boys and girls playfully dancing with abandonment in a large field in some of the ad campaigns [in particular a Banana Republic ad featuring the first appearance of model Kate Moss] to similar images of Weber's portrayal of his beloved dogs also happily and playfully romping about, seemed to delight Weber who laughingly commented, "What a great correlation, which I never thought of before."

Among many of his photographic ad campaigns for print, including Vogue, Vanity Fair, Elle, Life, Interview and Rolling Stone magazines, Weber made a point of addressing Christie Brinkley seated in the front row of the audience. Recounting a photo shoot that he remembered with fondness - he told the tale of traveling with Brinkley in Las Vegas. As it turned out Weber had "very little money and Sinatra was performing" - he recalled that Brinkley graciously escorted him [and his co-workers] to front row seats.

Bruce Weber is delighted to meet up with old friend Christie Brinkley. (Eileen Casey)

Weber's fashion shots gained tremendous popularity in GQ magazine during the 1970s with his use of male models and art photography. Shooting in black and white, his Calvin Klein ads were considered by many to be extreme, and by others to be sheer art, including an unclothed couple facing each other on a swing, two clothed men in bed, and perhaps one of the most recognizable ads of all time - his shot of a male model barely holding a pair of jeans in front of himself in a shower, as well as his shot of Olympic athlete Tom Hintnas in white briefs.

After many years as a fashion photographer, Weber turned his artistic eye to film. Making short films: "Broken Noses" (1987) about professional lightweight boxer Andy Minsker; "Let's Get Lost" (1988); about jazz trumpeter Chet Baker; a critically acclaimed Academy Award nominated documentary film following the 1950s icon on a year-long trek using Baker's music as the soundtrack that was filmed two years before Baker's death, "Backyard Movie" (1991); "Gentle Giants" (1995) and later a longer film entitled "Chop Suey" (2001) about a mix of subjects encompassing many of Weber's personal favorite people and things, with Weber doing the voiceover. Another film, "A Letter To True" (2003) did center on his own golden retrievers. The film is narrated by Julie Christie and Marianne Faithfull. Faithfull is also in the new Mitchum film.

Weber's declaration that "A Sporting Life" greatly influened him as an artist, treated this audience to an artist's whose images redefine life as sport.

Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.

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Guest (Phototag) from East Hampton says::
Bruce's photos are fantastic and the ads for CK were really ahead, thanks for a good article on a really good photographer.
Oct 21, 2008 7:51 pm


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