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Larry Sultan: Editorial

  • Casemore Kirkeby 1275 Minnesota Street, #102 San Francisco Ca (map)

Casemore Kirkeby is pleased to present Larry Sultan: Editorial Works, a selection of images – many never before exhibited – taken from editorial and commercial assignments the late photographer Larry Sultan shot for Interview, W, and Wallpaper magazines, as well as ad campaigns for Bottega Veneta, Kate Spadeand others. 

Beginning in the mid-1990s, Larry Sultan increasingly worked on editorial assignments with the intention to both support and inform his own artistic practice. Over several years, he developed strong collaborative relationships with a number of forward-thinking art directors, photo editors, and publicationsSultan’s uncanny ability to visually illuminate their stories while simultaneously interrogating the imagery and its cultural underpinnings in a way that was sensitive, nuanced, seductive, and darkly humorous was deeply valued. The editorial work, in turn, gave Sultan permission to wander through situations normally off-limits to a non-participant, often creating a relationship of reciprocal influence between Sultan’s editorial and personal work.

When Maxim magazine hired Sultan for an assignment about “Great Jobs,” he found himself in California’s San Fernando Valley, where the suburban home of an area dentist was being used as a make-shift adult film set. The house was located just four blocks from Sultan’s former high school, serendipitously placing him back in the physical and psychological terrain of his youth. Within these mixed perceptions of home, Sultan knew he had found his next project. The resulting body of work, The Valley, examined the fascinating nexus formed by the use of these suburban homes and neighborhoods as set locations for adult films.

Featured in the main gallery of Casemore Kirkeby, and exhibited for the first time ever, is a series Sultan made on a subsequent 2003 assignment for Wallpaper magazine to photograph a line of modern furniture. At the time, Sultan was deep in the creation of The Valley and didn’t want to lose momentum, telling Wallpaper he would agree to the shoot only if he could photograph the furniture at Vivid Entertainment, an adult film studio where he had been photographing intermittently. Cheekily coined “Porn Furniture” in his notes, and “Set for Seduction” for the article, Sultan staged the couches and chairs within the mise-en-scène of absurd and fantastical adult film sets – a pair of high heels strewn here, a set of handcuffs there. But Sultan simultaneously pulled back his lens to reveal the rough-hewn underpinnings of the enterprise and the banal workspaces of the surrounding studio.

Like all of Sultan’s best work, the images comprising “Porn Furniture” resist easy categorization. As he said in a later interview with Drew Johnson, “Before one can file it into the known, there are these moments you get to see without knowing what it is yet. I think these are the rare moments of seeing, before one is completely protected or oriented by what we already have experienced. It’s this great open moment in which you have to use your own eyes and look at the details and make up your own mind.”

Also represented in the exhibition are numerous other editorial assignments, including photographs from a series documenting the denizens of San Francisco “high society,” shot for W magazine, an image of Paris Hilton shot for Interview magazine, and images from ad campaigns for Kate Spade and Bottega Veneta, among others. The editorial arena proved to be a perfect venue for Sultan to engage the realm of pop culture, both as a testing ground for ideas that often made their way back to his personal work, and to bring those ideas to a broader audience via a sort of poetic subterfuge. Sultan’s editorial work was an outgrowth of his long history of engagement with a number of different, if overlapping, photographic languages, be it that of the institutional archive (Evidence), the home movie and family album (Pictures from Home), the forensic photograph (The Valley), or the advertising image (Billboards).

Photographer: Larry Sultan
Bill To: TBD
Job Reference: TBD

2 – Mamiya RZ camera bodies
2 – Mamiya RZ winders
1 – Mamiya RZ prism finders
3 – Mamiya RZ 220 film backs
1 – Mamiya RZ polaroid back
1 – Mamiya RZ 65mm lens
1 – Mamiya RZ 90mm lens
1 – Mamiya RZ 110mm lens
1 – Mamiya RZ 140mm lens
1 – cable release

2 – rolls of 2” gaffer tape (1 white & 1 black)
12 – AA batteries
2 – batteries for the Mamiya 7
2 – batteries for the Mamiya RZ
3 – new Sharpies
12 – 1 gallon ziploc bags
1 – bag wooden cloths pin

Lighting & Grip
2 – Profoto Pro 7b pack (with one extra battery & 1 charger)
3 – Profoto flash heads (with 7” reflectors, stands & white Profoto umbrellas)
2 – Profoto grid sets
1- Profoto snoot attachments for 7” reflectors
2 – extra long regular sync cords
3 – Pocket Wizard sets (Plus model)
4 – Manfrotto light stands (need to reach 11′)
4 – 2” A-clamps
1- Barndoor for Profoto reflectors
1 – small Chimera (with Profoto speed ring)
1 – medium Chimera (with Profoto speed ring)
1- large Chimera (with Profoto speed ring)
3 – C-stands (complete with arms, knuckles & base)
4 – medium A-clamps
1 – solid black flag (approx. 25cm x 45cm)
1 – solid black flag (approx. 75cm x 90cm)
1 – Flex Fill collapsable reflector (Gold / White, medium size)
4 – 8 meter extension cords
1 – Matthews mini-boom
2 – 12 kilogram sandbags
1 – KinoFlo 4’ light bank (4 tube, daylight balanced)

Gels & Diffusion
2 – sheets of 1/4 CTO gel
2 – sheets of 1/2 CTO gel
2 – sheets of Full CTO gel
2 – sheets of 1/4 CTB gel
2 – sheets of 1/2 CTB gel
2 – sheets of Full CTB gel
2 – sheets of 1/2 plus green
4 – sheets of Opal diffusion

Film & Polaroid
12 – Pro packs (60 rolls) of Kodak Portra 400NC / 220 format
6 – Pro packs (30 rolls) of Kodak Portra 800 / 220 format
10 – packs of Polaroid 679 / 100 ISO