STANLEY STELLAR Mitch, 2008 Archival digital color print on matt paper 39-7/8 x 30"
STANLEY STELLAR: A Photographer
May 18 - Jul 02, 2011
Stanley Stellar: A Photographer begins by exhibiting pictures taken by Stellar with his first Nikon camera bought in 1976. He is considered one of “the” photographers of the early period of gay liberation. His photographs from that time have become icons of that history. This solo exhibition showcases and highlights Stellar’s career from these earliest photographs to his most recent works in digital imagery.
On the streets of New York, he discovered he had a peculiar gift for approaching men—and not just gay men—and getting them to take their pants off for a picture. Stanley’s interest in tattoos affords him with one of his easiest approaches to men who eventually pose nude for him because, of course, tattooed men, regardless of their sexuality, want to be looked at.
One of the photographer’s most iconic street photos was the result of an encounter on the sidewalk with a young man with tattooed arms. Stanley asked for and received permission to photograph the decorated arms. After he thanked the youth and started to walk away, the boy yelled, “Hey! I got birds too!” He lifted his shirt to reveal an achingly beautiful young torso with a bright bird swooping on each pectoral. “I got birds too” remains an iconic image of the emerging gay eroto-aesthetic of the ‘70s. This image was one of the first to be mass-produced on postcards.
To Stanley, the only thing that matters is the beauty of the man–and not in any conventional sense. You somehow get to know who, not just what you are looking at. One rarely finds a “super-model” look in Stanley’s work. A Stellar image draws you beyond the physical beauty of the men photographed; you are drawn into the soul of the man. When asked about his approach to his work, Stanley explains, “It is a society of physical, naked men, a wholly unacknowledged counter world of men: straight, bi- and gay usually never seen. All men share their nakedness with each other; yet are never allowed to see each other naked.” Stellar’s most recent publication, The Beauty of All Men, All Saints Press, will be released with the opening of this exhibition. This book and this exhibition have been curated by Peter Weiermair, international curator, author and publisher of art books, including Treasure of Gay Art from the Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation. Weiermair is a past director of museums and art institutions in his native Austria, as well as Germany and Italy and has curated important exhibitions in Asia and New York City. Of his many books and monographs The Hidden Image (MIT Press, Cambridge-London, 1988) is considered the most authoritative work on the male nude ever published.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Stellar was educated at the Parsons School of Design where he focused on graphic design and photography. His professional career includes innumerable book designs, editorial design and art direction for numerous magazines and publishing houses. His work has shown in many galleries throughout the U.S. and Europe. He has been discussed in over a dozen anthologies and his photography has been on the covers of 26 international magazines. Other Stellar publications include Stellar Men, and Iconic. His photography has been featured in all major gay publications throughout the United States and Europe, including the cover of Provocateur.