Albert Watson’s photographic oeuvre defies any simple categorization, combining personal projects and commissioned work with a daring personal style.

Model, inspired by Frida Kahlo's aesthetic, holds a birdcage while standing in front of nopales
Albert Watson, Frida Kahlo Story, ‘Birdcage,’ Marrakech, Morocco, 1998, Printed 2018, Archival Pigment Photograph

Beautiful, rich, and intriguing, Watson’s photography has created some of the most instantly recognizable iconic images. Likewise, Watson captures personalities that have changed the cultural landscape through a blend of art and fashion photography.

Born and raised in Scotland, Albert Watson studied graphic design and film before moving to the United States. After establishing himself as a photographer in Los Angeles, Watson moved to New York where his prominence grew.

In 1998, Albert Watson created a photo shoot as an homage to Frida Kahlo for the German edition of Vogue.

Shot in Marrakech, Watson told us he actually has a home in Morroco during an earlier interview. As an artist Watson had always admired, Frida Kahlo became the inspiration for a shoot that would highlight the Mexican artist’s resolute and emblematic aesthetic. Designers from the late 1940s to early 1950s inspired the clothes for the shoot. These designs are loose contemporary allusions to her adopted traditional Zapotec-Tehuana fashion style. The model chosen for the shoot, Teresa Lourenco, bore a rough resemblance to Frida. Accordingly, this final scenario ultimately created an image that pays overall deference to Frida’s tenacious originality.

Moreover, Watson used saturated colors in the shoot as a salute to the renowned color shots of Frida by Nickolas Muray. Furthermore, Frida Kahlo’s image has since her time inspired and enchanted a fashion-conscious public. In 1934, Martin Munkacsi photographed Frida, along with her iconic residence, La Casa Azul, for Harper’s Bazar. Toni Frisell photographed her for Vogue in 1937. And on her first visit to Paris, Frida inspired designer Elsa Schiaparelli to design the Madame Rivera dress in her image.

Watson’s shoot takes place in a period that plays a role in the continual resurgence of Frida Kahlo’s influence.

In 1983 Hayden Herrera wrote a biography of the artist, Frida. In 1998 Jean Paul Gaultier created a somber and eye-catching Spring collection heavily influenced by a combination of Kahlo and musician Marilyn Manson’s aesthetic. Likewise, in 2002 a biographical movie was released based on Herrera’s book. Albert Watson creates in 1998’s Frida Kahlo Story, a fashion-oriented and glamorous take on the compelling and unique iconography that Frida’s image invokes. As one of the most inventive photographers to record influential characters, one wonders what could have transpired had Watson had the opportunity to capture the revolutionary artist herself. At this instant, Watson’s inspired shoot captures a romanticized and alluring simile of the icon. An icon that continues to influence culture and fashion to this day.

Ultimately, Watson remains one of the most sought-after and versatile photographers to work in either commercial, fashion, or art photography. He was named one of the 20 most influential photographers of all time by Photo District News, has had numerous museum exhibitions, has given numerous lectures, and is considered one of the most significant creative forces in the contemporary photography world.

 

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