Near the Stairways

When celebrity photographer Mark Seliger acquired the old brick building at the corner of Charles Street and the West Side Highway (New York City) in 1997, his friends couldn’t understand why he wanted a place in such an unfashionable area, across the street from rotting piers on the Hudson River and not far from the infamous meat-packing district. The building had been built as a factory in 1852, and Seliger had it gutted and rebuilt (an immensely expensive job) but a little over a year after buying it he had it operating as a state-of-the-art studio. Today the meat-packing district is filled with fashion boutiques, chic restaurants, and upscale hotels. Across the street from the studio, a luxury apartment development designed by Richard Meier is going up. “I went from being the stupidest person on earth to being the smartest,” shrugs Seliger.

During the remodeling, an old elevator was disassembled and taken out, leaving an empty shaft that, to the photographer’s delight, was topped with a 20×30-foot skylight. Seliger had a wooden platform built into the shaft, creating a private space upstairs from the main studio — a small, quiet place defined by the texture of its brick walls and flooded with creamy light. Inevitably, he began taking his celebrity subjects into the rebuilt space, now part of a stairwell, to photograph them.

“Every time I had a session where there was time to shoot someone in there, I’d do it,” says Seliger. “It became another option — when I would run out of ideas for what I was going to do with someone in the studio, I would take them upstairs.”

 

Manon

 

Julia Roberts

 

Heidi Klum

 

Iman

 

David Bowie

 

Mick Jagger

 

Lou Reed

 

Chris Martin

 

Paul McCartney

 

Luciano Pavarotti

 

Mihail Baryshnikov

 

Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox

 

Mel Brooks using a comb to make a Hitler moustache

 

Adrien Brody

 

Liam Neeson

 

Lenny Kravitz

 

To watch more pictures taken by Mark Seliger (and Lenny Kravitz’s I Belong to You music video, also directed by Seliger), please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

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Lines Carved with Passion

Mark Summers is a talented illustrator who was born in Canada. He usually draws by means of the long-established but uncommonly, scratchboard. Scratchboard or scraperboard refers to a burdensome illustrative technique using sharp knives and tools for engraving into a thin layer of white China Clay that is coated with black India ink.
 
It can also be made with several layers of multi-colored clay, so the pressure exerted on the instrument used determines the color that is revealed. Modern scratchboard originated in the 19th century in Britain and France. As printing methods developed, scratchboard became a popular medium for reproduction because it replaced wood, metal and linoleum engraving. It allowed for a fine line appearance that could be photographically reduced for reproduction without losing quality. It was most effective and expeditious for use in single-color book and newspaper printing. From the 1930s to 1950s, it was one of the preferred techniques for medical, scientific and product illustration.
 
There is just something about the balance between black and white tones and the characteristics of the scratched lines that provides well-done scratchboard drawings a exacting appeal. Mark Summers is one of the best modern practitioners of the art.
He has done illustrations for major publications like Time and The Atlantic Monthly and has received three gold medals from the Society of Illustrators and was the recipient of the Hamilton King Award in 2000 and in 2002 he was nominated to David Greenwich Workshop Award.

 
 

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