Brandon Herman’s photograph, Untitled (Garet Yard), 2006

David Hockney’s painting, Sunbather, 1966


three photographers

May 1, 2008

Brandon Herman, Larry Clark, and Ryan McGinley are three photographers whose work focuses on youth, identity, and sexuality. Their photographs range from overly stylized to rather understated, but it is the subjects of their lenses that make their work stand out. Each chooses a subject (usually young people, often men/boys, with a varying range of homo-eroticism) that is compelling to look at and also depicts that subject in a way that implies something that is more-than-meets-the-eye.

Miranda Purves of the CBC pointed out in an article on Larry Clark that there is perhaps something “sinister” about his photographs of young people, which is an attack that could be fielded against any three of the photographers showcased here. When photographically depicting young people in relative states of undress, the photographer is treading on ethically shaky ground (it would be so easy to accuse him of exploiting such subjects). This is one aspect of their bodies of work that makes these artists so popular and has given them their respective states of fame (everybody loves scandal!!). But is it too easy? They seem to have the formula down pat: take photos of nude youths — get fame, fortune, and notoriety.