Publication Date: October 19, 2010
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“I’m in constant search of chasing beauty, chasing hope—I’m not interested in the dark.”
The celebrated photographer Richard Phibbs, known for his celebrity portraits and iconic ad campaigns for Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani, and more, has an unwavering eye for beauty. Many theorists argue that beauty is subjective, a product of individual preference, but the images from Phibbs’ archive of work from 1997–2009, edited, sequenced, and collected in Chasing Beauty, may put that argument to rest.
The book is a deeply personal labor of love, affirming Phibbs’ belief that photographs can change, inspire, and motivate. Alfredo Paredes, one of the creative minds behind Polo Ralph Lauren, approached Phibbs with the idea of making a monograph—with one caveat: Phibbs was to step back and relinquish control. Paredes had a vision in mind of taking Phibbs’ aesthetic and selecting images that would realize his unique eye for beauty. The result is a fascinating juxtaposition of photographs that excite, tantalize, shock, and surprise. A delicate and gorgeous rose is followed by the rawness of a dirty rugby player; a pair of horses is set beside a female nude. These combinations highlight undeniable beauty of both natural and human origin, and show us that if you only look beauty can be found anywhere.
“Sometimes things cannot be expressed in words—that’s what is so expressive, emotional, or revealing about a photograph. Just look and enjoy it. It reveals that exact fleeting moment in time—that’s all. When I lose my breath a bit, I know that’s the picture.”
MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM is the author of the novels A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood, The Hours (which won the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award) and Specimen Days. He lives in New York. Visit him online at www.michaelcunninghamwriter.com.