Natalie White—muse to Peter Beard and portrait subject to Chuck Close, George Condo, Will Cotton, Marc Quinn and more—to debut nude self portrait series created with iconic 20 x 24” Polaroid camera from 1978
Only seven of the 235-pound Polaroid cameras were ever created, and the remaining film stock’s chemical expiration is imminent. With the same kit as photographic self portraiture pioneers Andy Warhol and Chuck Close, White aims to preserve the physical and emotional likeness of her youth in the nearly extinct medium of large format Polaroid photography.
New York, NY and Miami, FL — April 13, 2017 — New York-based artist Natalie White, former muse and nude model to dozens of male photographers, claims the role of “artist” for herself in a solo exhibition of 14 large format Polaroid self portraits. A Muse Me is White’s first show devoted entirely to the medium; she previously exhibited several “Giant Polaroids” in 2013 for Who Shot Natalie White (a show of 25 artists’ works for which White was the subject) and again in 2015 as part of Instant Gratification, her otherwise performance-based exhibition at The Hole gallery on New York’s Lower East Side.
The behemoth camera’s multiple exposure capabilities allow White to explore components of a complex intimate relationship—making love, pulling hair, turning one’s back on a partner—through the illusion that she is doing such an act with herself. With what art critic Jerry Saltz deems “radical vulnerability,” White as her own muse and portrait subject is alternately dominant and submissive; narcissistic and humble.
From the medium itself to an exhibition catalog essay by Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow, A Muse Me and White’s studio practice as a whole integrally embrace a cross-generational reverence for late-20th century American art and culture. For the exhibition, White uses the 1978 Polaroid’s distinctively retro process and aesthetic to explore timeless intimate acts; in her nude state with no modern objects or iconography in the frame, these works could have been made forty years ago.
The camera itself functions with resemblance to the ubiquitous handheld version. The 20 x 24-inch contact film similarly self-develops in under 90 seconds, but the size requires that the device operator manually peel off a top layer and wipe away the chemicals—in the process, framing the photo with the crude, sepia border made famous by Andy Warhol and his contemporaries’ early use of the camera.
White began experimenting with the medium in response to critics’ positive reception of work for which she was the model; said the artist:
“People would compliment a portrait of me by Peter Beard or another famous artist and I would wonder to myself if they were already primed to like it because it was by this famous male artist. They would talk about the expressive qualities of the piece—but my captured expressions weren’t truly genuine. A heterosexual male artist is inherently ill-equipped to capture the authentic female state. I love my body, but for different reasons than a hetero male does. I wanted to take ownership of my likeness and come up with a process that could more accurately capture my emotional state. I wanted to become my own muse.”
Though White meticulously crafted the perspective and composition of each piece in advance, raw emotion is inherent to the process; the large format Polaroid camera, like its handheld counterpart, allows just one take with no airbrushing or editing. The ethereal, translucent overlay effect of the double exposure allows White to make tangible the dueling emotional states within her psyche. One work, One at a Time, is a triple exposure whose visual effect appears to insert a stoic, conflicted White between polar states of emotional dominance. With a timelessness compounded by the terminal medium’s distinctively retro process and aesthetic, White exists in A Muse Me as an ageless vessel for physical and emotional intimacy.
Following an artist’s reception from 7 – 9 p.m. on Friday, April 14, A Muse Me will be on view daily (excluding Sundays and Mondays) from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. through Saturday, May 13.
Feminist by nature, a riot by habit. Natalie White is a provocative and progressive feminist and artist, first known for her contribution as a “Muse” to the work of many of today’s art and fashion luminaries. Her creative drive and unapologetic spirit have led her to collaborative ventures with artists such as Peter Beard, George Condo, Olivier Zahm, Michael Dweck, Will Cotton, Spencer Tunick, and Sean Lennon.
Growing up in a small town in West Virginia, Natalie first gained attention internationally as a young model, featured on the covers of numerous European Magazines. Never one to shy away from the risque, she was also the first American ever featured in French Playboy.
In 2013, at the “Who Shot Natalie White?” show, amidst a retrospective of 25 different artists for whom she has been a muse, Natalie debuted herself as a solo artist. Through a series of double exposed Giant Polaroid nudes, she redefined herself as “her own muse.”
As a leader in female empowerment, a member of the ERA Coalition, and self-affirmation through art, Natalie also works in activations for women’s rights. She has performed at the “Art Basel Miami Women in Art Benefit” in collaboration with the Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth Sackler Center, as well as the “Natalie White for Equal Rights” show at the Hole in 2015 and a 2016 follow-up at the WhiteBox Foundation for the Arts. In July 2016, She led a 16 day, 250-mile march from NYC to DC promoting the fight for inclusion of The Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. – Press release by Molly Krause Communications Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org