FEBRUARY 13 – MARCH 20, 2021
Scotland has a history as a rugged land that fosters hard work, a spirit of independence and a strong connection to the environment. It is often remarked as ‘a hearty place for hearty souls.’ We are lucky enough to represent three photographers who have influenced contemporary photography and are products of a Scottish lineage. In this exhibition, “Three Great Scots” Harry Benson, Albert Watson and David Yarrow have produced three quite distinct acclaimed bodies of work.
David Yarrow arresting bodies of work revolve around two axes. Many of his images have been elaborately choreographed bringing to life scenarios from the American West while paying tribute to Old Western Films and our myths about the wild, untamed spirit of the West – the beautiful women, old salons, western ghost towns and ruff and tumble outlaws. These stock ideas are given a fresh and wonderful life as Yarrow carefully stages moments of interaction between man, nature and animals that play on archetypal fantasies. We are invited to walk into an imaged and slightly menacing world anxious to know how a picture resolves. On the other side, David has a great respect for nature as a preservationist and has faced great hardship in travelling the globe to make portraits of animals – who’s existence is often threatened. Part of the difficulty that Yarrow faces, is that his pictures require a direct engagement between his subjects and the camera – often making his exposures with a low angle and not using zoom or telephoto. Yarrow believes that you need to feel the presence and energy of the animals. The animals are never presented as specimens – they are active dynamic subjects afforded the power and majesty they possess. Yarrow produces the largest pictures of the three photographers – the images themselves don’t seem to want to be contained by the margins of the photographic paper. In addition to producing best selling books and lecturing through out the world Yarrow has raised many millions of dollars for Wildlife Organizations.
Harry Benson began his life as a reluctant student – with dreams of becoming a soccer player. That, obviously and thankfully didn’t happen. Smart, resourceful and driven to accomplish, Harry began as a photographer’s assistant and soon had jobs of his own that would allow him to hone his craft in Scotland working for the Daily Sketch. He soon relocated to London, and worked for the London Daily News, a newspaper that had a large circulation, photographing the leading individuals and organizations in this metropolis. He reluctantly accepted a story to shadow and photograph an up-and-coming musical band, came to the United States with the Beatles in 1964. As they say, the rest is history. He photographed the meteoric rise of the Beatles for about 18 months while shooting other major stories. Benson went on to work for periodicals like Life, Time, Vanity Fair, Esquire, publish 16 books. He has shot many world leaders, every U.S. President and First Family since Eisenhower, and has shot runway fashion pictures and hob knobbed with the rich and powerful. He never turned away from work, and was as likely to shoot stories on the Watts riots, the assassination of Robert Kennedy, the famine in Somalia, and IRA exercises, as he was to shoot Elizabeth Taylor, Queen Elizabeth or Muhammad Ali. Harry, in his over 60 plus year career, always believed in the fidelity and necessity of shooting what would happen once and then be gone forever. He made it his mission to be in the right place at the right time, regardless of the effort needed to be there – so that he could be a photographic chronicler of history as it has been lived. And, as many luminaries have remarked in his documentary, “Shoot First” Harry always got the story!
Albert Watson has had a multifaceted career. He has become one of the most recognizable names in contemporary photography – and has spread his talent between fashion, advertising, portraiture, beauty, and fine art image-making. Albert studied film and graphic design, along with photography, at the Royal College of Art in London, and credits his success to this broad visual education. He spent his early days as a professional photographer in Hollywood in 1970s, mostly shooting for fashion magazines before earning wider acclaim for celebrity portraits, including of Alfred Hitchcock, and later for beauty shots of super models, including Kate Moss and Christy Turlington. He has photographed more than 100 covers of Vogue worldwide through the decades, and close to 50 covers of Rolling Stone magazine, along with countless other publications. He has also photographed dozens of well-known album covers for rock stars and rappers. He won a Grammy in 1975 for best album art, and Queen Elizabeth II awarded him an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2015 for his lifetime contributions to the art of photography. Watson also has spent much of his career on personal projects, deriving inspiration from the visual arts, science and the natural world, fashion, and notable cultural figures in creating powerful, strong and unpredictable photographs. He has an intuitive, learned eye and has not allowed himself to be limited to any one aesthetic, with a graphically powerful style and an expert use of light and shadow. From landscapes of the Isle of Skye in Scotland, to NASA spacesuits, to artifacts from King Tut’s tomb, to movie stars, to major ad and fashion campaigns, Watson’s originality and freedom to use the subject itself as his inspiration has kept his pictures from being traditional or stylized. Watson challenges us to draw an ever-elusive line between commercial and fine art photography.
It may seem simplistic to think that a specific country can manifest itself in the work of 3 very dissimilar photographers. But, nationality has become a convenient starting point to be able to showcase work by three truly outstanding photographers. They have all developed independence, and a deep determination to be the best at what they do. Their work, collectively and individually has expanded the potential impact of photography. Benson, Watson, and Yarrow have a common strength and seemingly spontaneous ability to create dynamic pictures standing the test of time, and acting as windows opening up into a larger world.