Review – Nick Knight OBE

Nick Knight (1958)

Dolls, SHOWstudio 2000Fig. 1. Dolls (2000)

Initial Thoughts:- Bold, colourful, model, overpainting (digital or oil?) I think the overpainting is done with paints, on top of a photo, then uploaded and enhanced. Creative, mix of beauty, softness, brash and rough. The paint is slapped on, not without care, but the clothes have been roughly painted, other than the scarf, which is quite delicate. I both like it and dislike it. I find it beautiful and ugly, and I think that’s the point. Knight raises the question about beauty with this photo. What do we think is beautiful? Why? It’s a real smack in the face question about whether I, the viewer, sees beauty as only being skin deep.

 

Isabella Blow Fashion Galore Catalogue, Somerset House, 2013Fig. 2. Isabella Blow (2013)

Initial Thoughts:- My gosh. This is so clever, soft and delicate. Digital manipulation. The pixel painting has created a curtain type effect and this makes it appear that Isabella is partially in front of and behind a curtain. The colours are gold, red, black, grey (silver) and orange and they work well together, they compliment. They way Knight has manipulated the image makes the model look incredibly skinny, more so than what she is naturally. Her body is twisted and in profile, whilst her head and neck is just slightly turned. The pixel painting has not added anything new to the photograph. Instead there is a smooth smudging of what is already there. Linear marks. Other-worldly. It evokes thoughts of hovering between life and death, and says to me that the balance between the two states can be quite beautiful and precarious. A slight breeze and she moves beyond the curtain in either direction.

 

TR-NIKN-000179Fig. 3. Louis Vitton (1996)

Initial Thoughts:- Heroin chic, Photoshop colour replacement brush, elongated figure, her clothes hang off of her, her pastel turquoise skin has been over-painted, and is not a result of lighting. I strongly dislike this photo. It reminds me of illness, of anorexia, of substance misuse. It appears to me that Knight is making a political statement against the so-called beauty of the heroin chic era/model/look. This photo was made in the heart of that era. Pretty beautiful or pretty ugly is the question that I feel that I am being asked. It also feel like this photo is deliberately made as a parody, a piss take, a reaction against the trend.

Knight does not believe that photography is or has ever been a medium of truth. Photography is always a creation between the participants i.e. the photographer and the photographed.  Although on first viewing of his site, all of the models appear to be thin, and beautiful, he has photographed people of all ages, and sizes, ethnicity and disability and he believes that all people are equal. He tries to push and challenge himself with his photography, and this includes the challenge as to what is beauty really? As for digital manipulation, he sees this as being a step forward. Photographers have always enhanced and manipulated their photos, but the digital ages makes this more easily possible. He says “Photographers aren’t machines that have no feelings and no opinions, they’re storytellers; they manipulate the reality in front of them to tell you something interesting about it – and that holds true of everyone from Diane Arbus to Helmut Newton.”(Frankel, S; 2009).

Knight is a very popular fashion photographer, and this is because he is both complimentary and conceptual, and he has an extensive CV. He founded SHOWstudion.com in 2000, and this is an online, interactive fashion studio, with many creative collaborators. He has also directed music videos for Bjork and lady Gaga (famousphotgraphers.net; 2017).

Illustrations

Figure 1; Knight, N; 2000; Dolls; AT: http://nickknight.com/ (accessed on 30/11/2007)

Figure 2; Knight, N; 2013; Isabella Blow; AT: http://nickknight.com/ (accessed on 30/11/2017)

Figure  3; Knight, N; 1996; Louis Vitton; AT: http://nickknight.com/ (accessed on 30/11/2017)

References

famousphotographers.net; 2017; Nick Knight; Online AT: http://www.famousphotographers.net/nick-knight (accessed on 30/11/2017)

Frankel, S; 2009; The Fabulous World of Nick Knight; Online AT: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/features/the-fabulous-world-of-nick-knight-1809790.html (accessed on 30/11/2017)

Robertson, E; 2017; Nick Knight “I commit with my heart and soul”; Online AT: http://the-talks.com/interview/nick-knight/ (accessed on 30/11/2017)

Wikimedia Foundation Inc; 2017; Heroin Chic; Online AT: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroin_chic (accessed on 30/11/2017)

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