Johnny is one of the world's greatest characters. I don't really know what he does, though, apart from always taking those pictures.
I'm obsessed with recording things.
—Jean “Johnny” Pigozzi
Gagosian Gallery is pleased to present photographs by Jean “Johnny” Pigozzi, many of which are being shown for the first time from his personal archive.
Pigozzi picked up a Leica camera as an adolescent and began formulating a diaristic style that revolved around his observations of upper–class life. While attending Harvard University, he made regular sojourns to New York City where he mingled with artists and tastemakers, taking photographs in close proximity. His “sophisticated snapshots,” significantly influenced by Robert Frank and Helmut Newton, are candid and intimate: friends including Andy Warhol, Anjelica Huston, and Diane von Furstenberg, among others, are captured in scenes of social revelry or voluptuous leisure. Pigozzi often appears in his own photographs, affirming the role of the camera as a tool for his keen engagement with the world.
The famous “blue pool” at the Pigozzi family's Villa Dorane at Cap d'Antibes has seen actors, models, musicians, and photographers since it was built in 1953. Apart from being the locus of Pigozzi's numerous photographs, glamourous birthday parties and Vogue photoshoots have also been hosted there. Color and black-and-white photographs of celebrities including Bono, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor, Naomi Campbell, David Geffen, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Elle Macpherson, Helmut Newton, and Julian Schnabel are brought to life with dramatic light and playful pool-toy props, celebrating the fun and whimsy of the boisterous glitterati.
A book of the same title, hosting more than 100 previously unpublished photographs from the Pigozzi pool and an introduction by Bono, will be published by Rizzoli New York to coincide with the exhibition.
Jean “Johnny” Pigozzi was born in Paris in 1952. He lives and works between New York, London, Paris, and Antibes, France. His first solo exhibition was held at Musée d'art moderne in Paris in 1974; solo exhibitions since then include “Pigozzi and the Paparazzi,” Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin (2008); and “Pigozzi, Stop! You're Too Close,” Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow (2011–12).
Pigozzi is also an avid contemporary art collector: he founded the largest collection of contemporary African art in 1989, known as the Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC–The Pigozzi Collection), and spearheaded the Japigozzi Collection of contemporary Japanese art in 2006. Works from Pigozzi's collections have been exhibited at institutions including The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2005); the National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C. (2005–06); The Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain (2006–07); Garage Center for Contemporary Culture, Moscow (2011); CNAC–Le Magasin, Grenoble, France (2011); and Foundation Cartier, Paris (2015–16), among others.
A Short Visit to Planet Earth
October 17–November 15, 1991
980 Madison Avenue, New York