From One Extreme to another
Working at TNR Communications, on the photography side of things, often requires a bit of ‘research’ to encourage creativity and even provide material for our blog. So the other day I went to the Nat Finkelstein exhibition From One Extreme to the Other, at Idea Generation – a PR company based in east London that also doubles as a gallery.
Nat Finkelstein – who passed away towards the end of last year – became a regular face at the Factory, Andy Warhol’s studio in New York, during the mid to late 1960s. He wasn’t one of the drug influenced artists who decorated the Factory in tin foil, or one of the boys hanging around hoping to be a superstar in the next Warhol production – film or otherwise, but a photojournalist interested in capturing the zeitgeist.
The Factory was a magnet for the weird and wonderful. Stars of film and music would drop by to observe and perhaps even participate in the decadent, uninhibited scenes that the studio was famous for. One of the stars that regularly dropped by during this period was Bob Dylan. Warhol already had the cooler than cool Lou Reed in his stable, so he probably wasn’t interested in enticing Dylan to join the resident kooks. However, he liked him enough to give him one of his Double Elvis paintings:
The resulting photo is one of my favourites from the collection, for many reasons. Firstly, because Finkelstein had intuitively captured three icons whose longevity, status and relevance in the future had yet to be decided. I also like the way that the painting is captured between Warhol and Dylan illustrating the transaction, and the way that they are standing gives the shot a kind of symmetry. Black and white photography always adds an element of drama and intrigue, so this shot might not have been as iconic or as striking had it been in colour. This shot is just a moment in time, and as Finkelstein said himself “When all is said and done, when everything is gone, the photograph is what’s going to remain. The photographer is the producer of history.”
As the story goes, although Dylan professed to being inspired by Elvis, he later exchanged the painting with his manager Albert Grossman for a sofa, of all things. Clearly Dylan isn’t the visionary Warhol and Finkelstein were. I wonder if there is a shot of that transaction…
Post by Nicola Charalambous (Production Manager for TNR Communications)