Makos & Exhibitionism
Author: Glenn Albin
Last week, photographers Christopher Makos and Paul Solberg—the self-styled Hilton Brothers (www.thehiltonbrothers.com)—gave an iconoclastic, whimsical presentation at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale (www.moafl.org), where two of their “Andy Dandy” images (Makos’ portrait of Andy Warhol in female wig and makeup juxtaposed with a Solberg floral picture) are currently on display. We caught up with them there for an exclusive chat, seen in the video above.
Meanwhile, In Season editor Glenn Albin, a longtime colleague and friend of Makos’, penned this introduction to the photographer’s book Exhibitionism in 2004:
Christopher Makos likes scenes, and isn’t afraid to create one when the mood strikes. Back in 1989, we were in South Beach, where Christopher had the idea to create a photo essay based on an “open call”—that is, models called to a location for the purpose of a casting.
For several hours, his rapport with nearly every model in town created a buzz on Ocean Drive. Christopher has a style of praising and jousting that generally turns models to the “on” position. All of this creates the conditions of a photo opportunity, and it worked: A shot of shirtless Nestor Lao, later to be titled Go-See, has become one of his most popular images because it defines his essential message of exhibitionism. This behavior, associated with deliberately drawing attention to oneself, precisely describes the central motif at play in the photography of Christopher, whose stark and sexy images allow both artist and subject the opportunity to fully exhibit themselves. Or, more to the point, show it off, because while these subjects are naked and natural, there is a clear agreement that the camera is consciously documenting the perfect moment. Innocence uncovered this is not. And never is Makos a passive presence in these sessions. When these Iowa farm boys and New Jersey bank tellers cross the threshold into his studio, he directs a collaboration that allows these extraordinary guys to reveal aspects—and angles—of their essential and classic beauty. This photographer is no voyeur. He doesn’t get his images crouching in wait for Bamm-Bamm to wander into focus. This is a full-volume experience, and when you’re around Christopher, you’re on his rollercoaster. Anyone who has spent 15 minutes with him has seen ideas spraying out of him at a rate almost too fast to comprehend. As his editor at Interview and later Ocean Drive—and as his friend for the past 23 years—I have witnessed the dynamic range of his work, all of it possible because Christopher has a way of intensely inserting himself in the moment and then turning around and photographing it.
Recently, at an exhibition of his portraits of Andy Warhol, Christopher found himself in a loft with hundreds of people, most of them willing to line up to have the accompanying catalog autographed. No one enjoyed the spectacle more than Christopher, who, dressed in an elegant suit and sneakers, propped himself atop a five-foot-high platform and sprawled on his side—half Mae West, half gorilla—to the shock and delight of fans. The longer the line grew, the more time he took talking to his new and old friends, personalizing books with drawings. It is this kind of tease and tension that he creates in all his work. But then he is, Himself after all, a true master of exhibitionism.
—From Exhibitionism, published by Glitterati Incorporated (www.glitteratiincorporated.com)