Celebrity photography is a genre that never runs out of steam. Portraits of movie stars, artists, statesmen, musicians, athletes… glossy magazines know that success is assured when photography prompts us to dream. Henry Leutwyler (b.1961), a New York photographer of Swiss origins, knows something about this – he who has made portraits of celebrities like Julia Roberts, Michelle Obama or Rihanna, and who works for such prestigious magazines as Vanity Fair, New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Vogue or Time.
A product of 12 years of discoveries, the series Document presents itself like a portrait gallery of objects that belonged to celebrities that Leutwyler would have been able to photograph had he been born but a few years earlier! Gandhi’s pocket watch, John Lennon’s glasses (and the weapon that killed him), Andy Warhol’s paintbrush, Mohamed Ali’s boxing shoe, Michael Jackson’s glove, Jimi Hendrix’s guitar, Elvis Presley’s wallet, or James Dean’s hotel room key… Isolated from their contexts and their owners, these objects – icons of the modern world – capture our attention. Authentic and worn, they are material witnesses of their owners, veritable relics of these celebrities as well as a projection of our own collective memory. These still lifes invite us into intimacy with celebrities in unprecedented ways. Leutwyler prompts us to reread differently, with all the unexpected emotional charge that this collection of singular objects entails.
The exhibition is organized in collaboration with Foley Gallery, New York, and has received support from Laumont Photographics and Zenith Swiss Watches. It is accompanied by a book published by Steidl and a limited edition, signed and numbered, puzzle produced by MBAL.