Estate Prints - Tony Viramontes
"It is essential to capture the image, not a detail, not a garment or an expression, but an impression."
Tony Viramontes, 1956-1988
Tony Viramontes was born in 1956 in Los Angeles, USA, of Spanish and Mexican parents. He traveled extensively as a child. He studied fine art and photography in New York at FIT and Parsons, before switching to fashion and beauty illustration.
When Viramontes made his debut in the late 1970's, his hard and direct style was a marked contrast to the prevailing soft pastel school of fashion illustration. He scored an immediate success, rapidly acquiring the kind of prestigious editorial commissions too often allocated to photographers, from Lei ,Per Lui in Italy, Vogue in the USA, the Face in Britain, as well as Jill Magazine , Marie Claire Le Monde and City Magazine in France.
Viramontes also worked with some of the most renowned names in fashion including Yves St. Laurent, Valentino, Versace, Chanel, Perry Ellis, Claude Montana and Rochas cosmetics. As well as creating portraits of Paloma Picasso and Diana Ross. The album covers he conceived for seminal artists of the period-Duran Duran, Donna Summer and Janet Jackson- caught the glitzrieg mood of the 1980s
His striking images are of strong, dominant, aggressive yet feminine women, sensuous men, smoldering and smokey-eyed, who vibrate with New Wave energy. He did not like to be labeled an illustrator, and considered himself to be an artistic creator, a creator of ideas in images. Goldy - the latest Italian version of Fiorucci - and Hanae Mori, the Japanese couturiere, asked him to take on the artistic direction of their companies, from the decoration of their boutiques to the design of their collections.
Tony Viramontes had great artistic potential, but he died in 1988 at the age of only 33. Two decades after his death, his work still shimmers with sensuality and a power that remains undimmed.
Anyone with enough schooling can draw or paint an interior and give us a sense of what it looks like - where things are, furniture and fabric choices, colour, lighting, and so on. And that is enough for many. It takes a really fine artist, however, to go beyond that and give us the sense of being in the room, of being able to move about in the space, touch, react, get beyond the facts to the reasoning behind them.
A drawing or painting of an environment must do more for us than a colour photograph would-if the result is to transcend journalism. It must give us the experience of the thing. For us to penetrate into the picture a certain interesting and inventive distortion must take place.
A wall, for example, must not be literal: the artist must give us a sense of the wall, how it functions in and relates to its environment, not simply how it is, or looks.