Monday, April 8, 2013

Sante D'Orazio's 'Other Graces' and Other Money Shot$


THAT’S the point,” photographer Sante D’Orazio asserted at the opening reception of “Other Graces,” the private sales exhibition of three decades of his work at Christie’s through 19 April.

The photographer, who made a name for himself in the ‘90s shooting artistic nude photos of Naomi, Stephanie, Kate, Helena, Cindy and other supermodels, as well as celebrities, was speaking of one particular photo of friend, sex symbol and shrewd businesswoman Pamela Anderson.

“Pamela Anderson Dollar Bill #1” (2000), arguably the most controversial of the images in the well-received “Other Graces,” depicts her sitting down. She is casually posed or as casually posed as one can be while topless. Her mouth is ajar as are her legs. On her feet are black sandals that tie at the ankle. Her only other apparel is black underwear. Her panties bear a white dollar sign at her crotch.

At first glance, the b&w photo is disturbing – even disgusting. In fact, one viewer who bestowed on it one, swift look pronounced it thus. But if a viewer’s eye lingers on the image, the message becomes clear; the art shines through. Of course, the position of the dollar sign is a metaphor for how PA has made an impact on American culture while lining her pocketbook. She is selling sex, so why not place a dollar sign where the buck stops. It’s simplistic and rather brilliant. (See video above of SD'O speaking briefly about "Other Graces.")

"Pam Grid #1" is a series of money shots. Sante D'Orazio photo courtesy of Christie's.

Interestingly enough, SD’O is also represented in “Photographs,” one of two photography sales exhibits at Christie’s. The other is “the deLIGHTed eye: Modernist Masterworks from a Private Collection.” Both broke sales records for the auction house. An SD’O photograph also set a sales record.

However, it was not with “Pamela Anderson Dollar Bill #1” from "Other Graces." It was “Pam Grid #1,” an arrangement of nine platinum prints on linen that is included in "Photographs." The series sold for nearly $100,000, a world record for the photographer. It was estimated to fetch up to $120,000.

"Keith Richards Rolling Stones," portrait of a rock survivor. Sante D'Orazio photo courtesy of Christie's.

Pam Grid #1 is composed of outtakes from the 2000 photoshoot. In this 2010 work, homage is being paid to the longevity of PA’s sex appeal. Indeed, she has been relevant since the late ‘80s.

Meanwhile, the eclectic “Other Graces” features images from Versace fashion shows and an arresting photo of Keith Richards that speaks eloquently about a life of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Most of the photos are shot in b&w. Prominent among the color photos is a new series, ”Green Door,” (2012) in which SD'O deconstructs aspects of erotica, creating altogether new images both abstract and impressionist.

On a tender note is "Butterfly variation." It came about one day when the photgrapher was at the Versace atelier for a photoshoot. “I kept seeing this butterfly,” he explained.

"Butterfly variation" or Gianni Versace reincarnated. Sante D'Orazio photo taken by David Glackin.

One day he photographed the insect and showed it to Donatella Versace. According to SD’O, she said, “That’s Gianni; he’s watching over us.”

Visit http://www.christies.com to learn more about “Other Graces,” “Photographs” and “the deLIGHTed eye: Modernist Masterworks from a Private Collection” visit http://www.santedorazio.com/ to learn more about the work of Sante D’Orazio. Rx

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