Marcus Leatherdale
1980-1994

Marcus Leatherdale 1980-1994

A retrospective selection of 87 photographs taken in Marcus Leatherdale’s NYC studio during the 1980’s and early 90’s.



Hidden Identities

Hidden Identities

Selected Images from Details magazine 1982-1990 Hidden Identities was one of the monthly features in the “original” Details magazine of the 1980’s. These photographs by Marcus Leatherdale explored the possibilities of covert portraiture, hiding the features while focusing on the personal style and star quality of the ’80’s In Crowd.



Facing India

Facing India

Marcus Leatherdale’s , Facing India with a preface by John Ashbery and an introduction by Ally Alexander Spivy is a photographic celebration of the immense range and beauty of India's people. The culmination of the photographer's seven-year odyssey into a timeless, at times hidden realm, the book includes 100 sepia toned portraits of men, women, and children. Some are performers or public personas-wrestlers, holy men, movie and television stars, musicians. Some are royal, including a queen whose lineage traces back to the Govinda Buddha. And some are adivasi-members of vanishing, indigenous tribes seldom seen by the outside world. Still others dwell in the quiet, peasant villages that hold, even to this day, up to eighty percent of India's population.

All were photographed by Marcus Leatherdale, whether in the rooftop studio of his house in Banaras or a makeshift studio he set up in villages as he traveled through the countryside. Many of the images were seen in the photographer's critically acclaimed NYC shows in Fall-Winter 1996,1997 and 1999, at Soho's Bridgewater/Lustberg Gallery ,which has garnered accolades from Artforum, Artnews, and Review.

It offers rare glimpses into lives seldom seen, and gently confronts old stereotypes with portraits of lyricism and strength. An elegant homage to the India of today and to the generations that shadow it, Marcus Leatherdale's book will appeal to anyone interested in photography, in India, or in the mysterious nature of identity, of culture, and of civilization.

These prints recall the glass-plate and albumen studies made by explorers and anthropologists of the nineteenth century. But there is a greater intimacy in Leatherdale's images, a feeling of familiarity and affection as well as curiosity. His thoughtful and beautiful portraits aim to reveal truths about his subjects deeper than those of ethnography.

First known for his arresting portraits of celebrities (Hidden Identities series-Details) in the 1980s, in 1993 Leatherdale began spending half of each year in the Indian holy city of Banaras . Based in a 200-year-old house in the old city, he began photographing the diverse and remarkable people there, from the sadhus (holy men) to celebrities, royalty to the Adivasi (tribals). Each year, for the six months he lived in India, he worked out of his studio and then traveled extensively, setting up makeshift studios in villages and carefully negotiating among some of India's most elusive figures to make his portraits. As of 2001 Marcus has relocated to rural Chottanagpur in Jharkhand, where he now focuses on the Adivasis (tribals) of India...Yet another upcoming publication.



Adivasi

Adivasi

That Marcus Leatherdale’s photographic portrait of tribal India is of the greatest possible documentary importance is unquestionable, but it should be equally obvious that it is great art. Leatherdale’s photographs are transformed through his craft and vision from social documents into objects of aesthetic contemplation, in other words, into art. Occasionally one encounters an individual with naïve notions about the distinction between art and documentation. In the hands of an artist there is no distinction; in the hands of an artist they are perfectly integrated.