I cannot remember when I first saw the book Idols by Gilles Larrain. All I know is that ever since I got it, it is been a huge influence on me. Idols is one of the best photographic books I have ever seen. It was published in 1973 and is a collection of studio portraits of trannies, gender benders, and just generally awesome looking people in New York City. It is an incredible time capsule. There are Warhol people, like Taylor Mead and Holly Woodlawn, and members of the San Francisco based psychedelic drag queen performance troupe the Cockettes. There s a photo of the artist Al Hansen, (a.k.a. Beck grandfather), covered in silvery paint and dressed up like some kind of Roman soldier, and an unrecognizable, teenage Harvey Fierstein, looking like a young, pretty Jewish lady (well, almost). Most important, these people all had the best style. The greatest fashion always originates with drag queens. The outfit you are wearing today was probably invented by a drag queen ten years ago.
Ryan McGinley, Vice Magazine, New York City 2010
Idols, an authentic compendium of 1970s New York style and attitude, and a confirmed masterpiece, began with an awestruck Larrain visiting Maxs Kansas City in the explosively liberating early years of the gay rights movement, and befriending Taylor Meade and John Noble. Once they came to be photographed, the rest followed. Idols represents a generation of New Yorks most talented, outrageous, glamorous, and mostly gay personalities, after spending hours applying original makeup and costumes to pose for Gilles in his now legendary SoHo studio.
Gilles Larrain was born in Da Lat, Vietnam in 1938 to a diplomat painter father and a pianist mother. He traveled the world at a young age while growing up in the midst of Jesuit boarding schools in Chile, Argentina, Canada, and France. Gilles attended the Lycee Francais in New York and he later attended LEcole des Beaux Arts in Paris where he studied architecture and city planning. A trip to Oaxaca, Mexico in 1963 to document the sites of Monte Alban and Mitla opened the door to a burgeoning love of photography. Gilles moved back to New York City in 1965 and settled into his artistic life, mixing sculpture, inflatable structures, neon, painting, and photography. He currently resides and continues to make artwork in New York City.
Ryan McGinley is a New York based photographer raised in New Jersey. After moving to New York in 1998, he began extensively photographing his downtown environs. He received a BFA in graphic design from Parsons School of Design in 2000. In 2003, at the age of 25, McGinley was the youngest artist to have a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art. His work has appeared in galleries and museums worldwide, on the covers of magazines and albums, and has been collected in five monographs, most recently in Life Adjustment Center (Dashwood, 2010).
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