Steven Klein’s provocative photography often takes something sinister or controversial — Tom Ford buffing a model’s bare bum, for instance — and turns it into an image so strikingly beautiful, one almost forgets about the bizarre circumstances of the photo.
Now through September 8, CWC Gallery in Berlin is hosting a show of the fashion photographer’s work, traveling through his massive portfolio.
A partial exploration of dominance, the 2006 “Valley of the Dolls” image of Ford mentioned above touches upon themes of eroticism and power with a cinema-like quality, as the designer plays an evil villain polishing the model to perfection. Another photo – from the much-talked-about 2005 “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”-themed W magazine editorial – portrays Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt lazing in bed with a gun (the shoot was based on the film in which the couple plays a husband-and-wife team of spies). In the 2002 image “X-static Pro=cess 03,” Madonna poses like a rag doll in fishnet stockings and tatters. In a haunting 2011 portrait, Kate Moss sits poised and veiled with black lace, like a Mafioso widow in confession.
While the images do have shock value, Klein’s work is more than sleazy celebrity photography — his talented eye and skillful composition keeps clients wanting more.
Click on the slide show to see highlights from the Steven Klein exhibition at CWC Gallery in Berlin through September 8.