Jonathan Becker

'A Fashionable Mind: Photographs by Jonathan Becker'

The SCAD Museum of Art presents “A Fashionable Mind: Photographs by Jonathan Becker.” Curated by André Leon Talley, this is Becker’s first solo exhibition in more than 30 years and his first museum retrospective. Featuring more than 60 photographs, “The Fashionable Mind” showcases Becker’s significant contributions to contemporary photography through his portraiture of diverse human experiences.

Eudora Welty at home, Jackson, Mississippi, October 1994.
Eudora Welty at home, Jackson, Mississippi, October 1994.

His compelling landscapes — both of nature and the human figure — explore physicality well beyond surface detail. For example, his portrait of Robert Mapplethorpe at the artist’s 1988 exhibition opening at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City is one of the most provocative images captured of Mapplethorpe during the last year of his life. The photograph speaks to Becker’s uncanny ability to capture the social-cultural statements of individuality as well as the irony and rawness of the human spirit.

As a portraitist and documentarian, Becker has traversed the globe in search of his most captivating and diverse subjects, including the upper echelons of entertainment, style, fashion and art, as well as unique subcultures such as the Yanomami tribe of the Amazon jungle. Additionally, he has collaborated to great acclaim with writers and artists such as Vanity Fair’s founding design director Bea Feitler and photographer Slim Aarons. His mentor was the great Hungarian artist Brassaï, from whom he had the good fortune to learn much about the geography of the human spirit through portraiture. Brassaï encouraged Becker to show the light of the soul, an essence only achieved through intense observation of human character.

About the artist

Jonathan Becker grew up in New York and lived in Paris in the ‘70s. A protégé of Brassaï while in France, he began his career as a portraitist at Interview magazine. As New York exhibitions of Becker’s work garnered critical acclaim and visibility, he expanded his work as a documentarian in the ‘80s with Slim Aarons and Frank Zachary at Town & Country magazine. Becker began contributing to Vanity Fair under the tutelage of its founding design director Bea Feitler. His portraits of filmmaker Louis Malle and of Becker’s mentor and friend Brassaï featured largely in the pages of the prototype for the magazine’s relaunch in 1982. Becker’s specialty in portraits, photographed by and large on location, soon became a Vanity Fair staple: Robert Mapplethorpe, Jack Kevorkian, Jocelyn Wildenstein and Martha Graham, as well as countless socialites, artists and heads of state. Assignments have dispatched Becker far and wide — from the Amazon rainforest for first-encounter photographs of members of the Yanomami tribe to Buckingham Palace for the first photographs showing the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles together.

Becker is also known for his close collaboration with Bob Colacello, Alex Shoumatoff and other Vanity Fair writers on stories about the denizens of worldly watering holes, the Adirondacks and Aspen, Palm Beach and Palm Springs, Capri and so forth. Over the course of three years’ work for The Rockefeller Foundation, Becker documented its funded projects on five continents. Four books of his work have been published: “Bright Young Things;” “Studios by the Sea, Artists of Long Island’s East End (derived from a Vanity Fair assignment with Bob Colacello); “Bright Young Things: London;” and, “Jonathan Becker: 30 Years at Vanity Fair.”


This exhibition is curated by André Leon Talley.

Museum Admission

The exhibition and reception are free for all SCAD students, faculty, staff with SCAD ID and museum members. Open to the public with the cost of museum admission.

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