Julian Wasser started his career in photography in the Washington DC bureau of the Associated Press
. While at Associated Press
he met Weegee
and rode with the famous news photographer as he shot photos of crime scenes in Washington. Weegee
was a major influence on Wasser’s style of photography. After serving in the Navy in San Diego the former AP copyboy became a contract photographer for Time Magazine
in Los Angeles doing assignments for Time
, and Fortune. His photographs have appeared in and been used as covers of Time
, and People magazines in the United States.
He has done cover assignments for The Sunday Telegraph, and The Sunday Times
colour supplements in London. His photos have appeared in US Magazine, Vanity Fair
, TV Guide, Paris Match
, Der Spiegel
, Oggi, Hello, Playboy, Elle
, and GQ
and in exhibitions in galleries and museums.
Perhaps his most notorious photo session was of groundbreaking artist Marcel Duchamp playing chess with a naked Eve Babitz in 1963 at the Pasadena Museum of Art during Duchamp’s first retrospective. Organized by Walter Hopps, then director of the museum (now the Norton Simon Museum), the exhibition was the first comprehensive survey of Duchamp’s storied career, which began in 1911 at the legendary Armory show in New York. Duchamp, by this time, was the most influential artist in the world, having revolutionized the modern art world with his unconventional concepts. At the time, he had retired from being an artist to pursue his passion for chess.
His numerous works had never been shown collectively, and the landmark show is still considered to be one of the seminal exhibitions of all time. The opening night was a who’s who of the most highly-regarded artists and collectors of the era, and effectively inaugurated the establishment of the Pop art movement. Among the group of up-and-coming artists who attended were Andy Warhol, Billy Al Bengston and Ed Ruscha.
In 1963 a long overdue retrospective for Marcel Duchamp, arguably the most significant and influential artist of the 20th century was held at the Pasadena Art Museum. The exhibition, curated by art world renegade and acting museum director, Walter Hopps, was Duchamp’s very first museum retrospective in the United States and a coup for the West Coast art world. Having produced some of the most groundbreaking examples of conceptual art since the early part of the century, Duchamp was a legendary figure by the 1960s and his presence in California was a pivotal moment in L.A. history and lore.
Artists and luminaries including Ed Ruscha, Billy Al Bengston, Larry Bell, Dennis Hopper and a very boyish Andy Warhol flocked to the opening gala of Duchamp’s retrospective and Time Magazine
sent L.A. based photographer, Julian Wasser to cover the event. At the time, Wasser, who began his career as a teenager shooting crime scenes in Washington D.C., was unaware of Duchamp’s significance in the pantheon of art. But known for being in the right place at the right time and catching formative moments in L.A. history with an unmistakable eye, Wasser not only captured the energy of Duchamp’s opening reception, but produced several of the most iconic pictures of the artist ever made. Duchamp posing next to his groundbreaking readymade Bicycle Wheel, originally conceived in 1913 and Duchamp playing chess with a nude Eve Babitz were among the images Wasser took while on assignment. Though Time
never published Wasser’s pictures, the latter photograph, inspired by one of Duchamp’s master paintings Nude Descending a Staircase
and the artist’s obsession with chess, went on to become one of the most recognizable staged photographs of the 20th Century.
The exhibition Julian Wasser : Duchamp in Pasadena Revisited
brought the quintessential photographs of Julian Wasser, together with an installation of appropriated works of art produced primarily by L.A. based artist Gregg Gibbs to create an exclusive experience of the 1963 Duchamp retrospective at the Pasadena Art Museum. Works on view originally produced by Duchamp and appropriated by Gibbs included early works such as Bicycle Wheel
, Nude Descending a Staircase
, 1919; With Hidden Noise
, 1916, and one of Duchamp’s masterworks (The Large Glass) The Bride Stripped Bare of Her Bachelors
1915-1923. The piece de resistance was a life-sized recreation of Wasser’s now-infamous photograph of Marcel Duchamp and Eve Babitz playing chess at the museum in 1963.
Source: Robert Berman Gallery