From age 19, Gorman was set on becoming a photographer, after one shot of Jimi Hendrix on a friend’s camera in 1968. Since, he has excelled in the arts world capturing intimate moments with the Hollywood elite. The exhibit features Andy Warhol, Jerry Hall, Sharon Stone, David Hockney, Iggy Pop, Michael Jackson, Leonardo Di Caprio, Raquel Welch and Michael Jordan to name a few. Identifying these celebrities as ‘outsiders’ might be a meditation on the solitude of fame, that isolates them from society as a symbol rather than a normal person.
Gorman’s photography has an emphasis on humanity and intimacy, although commercial work over his fifty-year-long career includes posters, CD covers and film artwork (The Italian Job, Scarface). Amongst the famous magazines, Andy Warhol’s magazine Interview has used Gorman’s work over twenty times on the front cover. Warhol even personally requested Gorman to take his portrait, which went on to become iconic.
Stubborn and strong-minded, the artist once fired an agent after she told him to reinvent himself. Gorman stays true to his classic, dramatic aesthetic with an emphasis on black and white, contrasting shadows with light. His body of work mainly explores intimate, close-up portraits and sculptural muscular nudes. In an interview, Gorman locates his photography with Leonardo Di Caprio on an androgynous boundary. “I love Leo because he was never particularly caught up in being too masculine of too feminine in a picture.” Despite producing work mainly commercially, we can draw out themes of fun, exaggerated femininity but also strength in all bodies regardless of gender. Gorman’s photos give the subject the voice.
Gorman has taped shed tarantula skin on Michael Jackson’s face and shot with Bowie at least fifteen times. So he’s done it all. At 70 years old, he has turned his hand to teaching photography and wine making. But this exhibition with work from as recent at 2015 reminds us that he’s still got more to give.