We are now exhibiting a solo photography show by Jim Lee with sculptures by Lars Zech; Jim Lee is known as one of the illustrious photographers of one of the most pivotal eras of fashion photography - when the focus transitioned from the clothing to the supermodel. The works on display show not only the evolution of fashion photography, but also the evolution of history as many were taken during the 60s and 70s. The beautiful sculptures by Lars Zech include pieces from the "Moving Portraits" series.
Photographer and filmmaker Jim Lee has always kept an ear to the ground – mindful of the zeitgeist and anticipating the future. But, as with many artists, it is only the benefit of hindsight that reveals some of the most remarkable aspects of his oeuvre.
As a fashion photographer in the sixties and seventies, Jim was at the centre of the fashion world, but unlike his contemporaries, Jim quickly tuned in to the revolutionary changes underway in gender politics. He understood early that women would no longer only have supporting roles in narratives about men. So, rather than treating women like mere mannequins or objects for male desire, Jim made the women the protagonists of their own stories.
The model in the 1974 Umbrella series, which Jim shot for Anna Wintour when she was at Harper’s & Queen, exemplifies the Jim Lee woman – a woman in charge of her own destiny, assertive and self-assured.
Jim was also ahead of his time in the way he worked as a fashion photographer. The current trend of fashion houses producing short videos for online ad campaigns, is strongly foreshadowed in Jim’s photography of the sixties and seventies. Jim wanted to tell stories with a beginning, a middle and an end and did so by letting a narrative play out over a series of images. Jim’s approach was more that of auteur filmmaker rather than photographer.
His unorthodox approach did not always work well with more conservative fashion magazines, but, at Harper’s & Queen he found an editorial board willing to take risks. Harper’s allowed Jim to indulge his cinematic vision, letting him work on location and stage elaborate film-like sets.
Jim has stayed true to this vision of photography till this day and captivating contemporary works such as the 2002 Feather series and the 2005 River Story series, bear testimony to Jim’s mastery of storytelling and his vision of strong woman.
Jim Lee’s photography is currently featured in a retrospective at Zurich-based Kate Vass Galerie. Owner and director Kate Vasilieva discovered Jim’s photography during a visit to Moscow’s Multimedia Art Museum in 2013, and continued to follow his shows around the world. When Kate decided to open her own gallery earlier this year, she approached Jim to see if he would agree to a retrospective for her opening show. Jim and Kate worked together to put on an ambitious show with over 25 images that span the entirety of Jim’s career. They decided to not only show the iconic works already in museum collections, but also images cherished by Jim that have never before been exhibited.