|Notes on ATELIERS D' ARTISTE
As an assistant to Irving Penn and Helmut Newton in the '70s, Mark Arbeit learned the most important lesson of his career: ""Light is photography," he says. "Newton taught me never be afraid to shoot in low light -- it could create something unexpected." From Penn, he learned the art of indirect light. For a photographer obsessed with natural light, the atelier is a sort of holy grail. "The idea is almost 200 years old," says Arbeit. "It's a studio designed so a sculptor or painter can work with consistent light." The sun traveling east to west never changes this indirect light. "Penn gave me the idea to use this space for photography."
Arbeit chose to bring the female nude back to the atelier. "This natural light draws the human form so well," he explains. On first glance the women appear to be posing for the work around them, as if Arbeit interrupted an artist at work; closer inspection reveals the women to be mimicking the portraits and sculptures they're surrounded by. "I want to create a balance and harmony between the model and the room, one not overpowering the other." Thus, each model is a chameleon, whether perched as a sculpture on a pedestal, or literally wrapped in an artist's canvas. She's a muse after the fact -- call it still life imitating art.