Karl Lagerfeld: Taking a look at life through the late designer’s lens

At the 2015 Art Basel contemporary art fair in Miami Beach there was a mini retrospective of Lagerfeld’s work

Charlotte Cripps
Tuesday 19 February 2019 16:13
Karl Lagerfeld: "My childhood was very simple"

The late German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld was best known for his trademark white hair, leather gloves and high-collared shirts, and as the head designer and creative director of Chanel, where he also took all the photographs for its advertising campaigns. Less was known about his creative photography, though his stylish images sell for up to £50,000.

In 2015, the Art Basel contemporary art fair in Miami Beach hosted a mini retrospective of Lagerfeld’s work.

The Zurich-based Galerie Gmurzynska, which represented him for over 25 years, exhibited his photographs in a museum-quality, salon-style hanging for its booth, curated by Germano Celant, which also included work by Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon.

“Karl Lagerfeld has a professional life as a fashion designer and an artistic life as a photographer,” said Mathias Rastorfer, the CEO of Galerie Gmurzynska, at the time.

“The inspiration comes from his life. He is very much in charge of the subject matter he chooses, from landscape to architecture, art and celebrities. There is no advertising background behind it.

"Photography has always been his creative outlet, away from the professional career as a designer."

Photographs included one of Nicole Kidman in 1995, lying across a decadent pink canopy bed in a corset and heels. It was taken at Lagerfeld’s former chateau in Paris, which he had filled with items from the 17th century.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was seen posing on a motorcycle in 2002 in the courtyard of his mansion in Los Angeles, where he has a collection of cars and bikes.

(AFP/Getty Images)

There was a also portrait of Lagerfeld’s great friend Jeff Koons, in 2008, standing in front of a sculptural self-portrait at the Palace of Versailles, where he had a show.

A photograph entitled Gone With The Wind (1996) is a play on the film that shows a black couple in a romantic embrace. “It’s a little remark about issues of colour,” said Rastorfer.

Karl Lagerfeld’s photography was exhibited at Galerie Gmurzynska, Art Basel Miami Beach in December 2015.

This piece was first published in November 2015.

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