Internationally renowned, award-winning photographer Markus Klinko
It's hard to believe that celebrities are ordinary people. And photographer Markus Klinko is not about to convince you otherwise. "I love fantasy. I'm not interested in reality. I try to block it out." In other words, there's enough ugly, which is why he's the choice of artists, musicians, actors and models doing a Derek Zoolander and wanting to be more than just ridiculously good looking. Markus' high gloss, high glamour, high definition photographs catapult stars into the stratosphere where they belong. How does he do it? "I was born in front of the camera before I got behind it."
Markus’s work is as familiar as Britney’s dance moves. His images have defined significant moments in pop culture. In fact, his modern take on seventies glow and excess has now culminated in a retrospective of his work, The 2000s, touring galleries globally. Remember Beyoncé in that bejewelled top throwing diva shapes on the album cover for Dangerously in Love circa 2003? That's him. And his jeans, for that matter. After a needs-must type moment in the wardrobe department on set that day, Markus lent his denim so the celebrated derriere of Ms Knowles-Carter could shimmy into them and get the shot. But we digress…
Beyoncé, Dangerously in Love, 2003, New York
Through a combination of meticulous planning and wild spontaneity, Markus has been trusted to parlay the personalities of J.Lo, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Dita von Teese, Mary J. Blige and none other than the late David Bowie into iconic visions. In so doing, he gives the audience the answer to exactly how we'd envisage seeing these stars depicted if only we had the imagination. Needless to say, getting a celeb with a lot to lose to execute risky ideas, like stepping out of a vehicle naked (Dita von Teese) or rising boldly from an inferno as flames lash between your legs (Iman), takes confidence. Luckily, Markus has that in spades.
Dita von Teese, The Arrival, 2013, Los Angeles
"I was a classical concert harpist. I performed as a soloist with symphony orchestras and recording artists around the world. I used to fly first class, be picked up in limos and stay in 5-star hotels. At the time, I was the only classical concert harpist in the world to have a major label recording deal. My life was pretty much set," explains Markus. In other words, his intimate knowledge of living the high life gave him a front-row seat in understanding the pressures and privileges of stardom. It was the perfect experience to prepare him for life as a photographer…
Markus Klinko – Musique De Chambre Française Pour Harpe, EMI, 1993
(French Chamber Music For Harp)
A problem with his right hand would cut his career as a classical musician short. "I was lucky. I'd achieved everything I wanted to. But that life was over. So, I made up my mind to become a fashion photographer, even though I'd never taken a picture in my entire life." The boldness in Markus' photographs can perhaps be traced back to this moment. "I just knew what it was like to be in front of the camera, to be the centre of attention. Some of my friends were photographers and models, and I was used to being around pretty and famous people. Plus, my ego was through the roof back then!" he laughs.
It's put him in good stead. These days, his goals are no less lofty: "I'm going to be very honest here. My ambitions are extremely high. I want to be the most successful blue-chip photographer in the world. I want my limited art prints to be a true investment for collectors." It's a smart move. Dismissing his mission as arrogant would be to grossly underestimate the skill and talent in Markus' work. "I consider myself a technician. I've learned and mastered everything I can to create incredible images. If I'm going to do something, I have to be good at it. And I'll practise and practise until I am."
That practice took him from cutting his teeth in illustrious style at fashion houses and leading publications, to the art galleries and curators he works with these days, headlining solo shows around the world. But there was a steep learning curve. "At first, I thought I'd continue getting doors opened for me as I did as a performer, but that was not the case. Nobody cared. People made me wait. I was very upset. I didn't understand, so I learned the hard way. And very quickly, I came down off my high horse. That's when I started working very hard, practising photography 10 hours a day."
It paid off. After doing a cover shoot with an actress for British Tatler, record companies came calling. And then Iman. "I got lucky. She asked me to shoot the cover of her book, a coffee table book she was releasing. It was a big honour because that book contained images by nothing but superstar photographers," Markus shares. "Then, of course, David Bowie shows up unexpectedly. We were looking over the photos for Iman, and he just offered me to shoot the cover for his upcoming album, Heathen." And another star is born.
Iman, Fire, 2015, New York
"Yeah, it was a chance of a lifetime. He invited me to his recording studio, and he played some of the unfinished tracks in the album to get me inspired for the shoot and gave me some ideas of what he wanted to do. The shoot took place on October 10, 2001, and the rest is history." Now those incredible images are being released in limited edition. They're some of the sparest and pared-back images in his canon and some of the most striking.
Heathen, David Bowie, 23rd Studio Album, Released 2002
"I am more like a painter. I go from a blank canvas, and I see what I can put on it to make it great. And sometimes it doesn't take much; sometimes it's something very simple. I don't have to always overload it. It doesn't have to be rainbows and stars and flying pyramids. It can just be straightforward," Markus explains. "I feel like I managed to conjure almost like a Humphrey Bogart vision of Bowie with those images, something classic but new.
David Bowie, Smoking, 2001, New York
"When photographing an artist, I always desire to create a work that truly defines them and can serve as a milestone in pop culture history. Those are ambitious and lofty goals, but it is what I am thinking about when I pick up my camera."
Addicted Art Gallery is so excited to be able to share some of those pop culture milestones with collectors. From the Noughties to now, Markus’ work stands the test of time. Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Written by Skye Wellington, Lens & Pen Projects