George Holz

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George Holz’ photographic career has spanned fashion editorial for Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue Italia and InStyle, portraits of nearly every major celebrity of the past two decades, and several gallery retrospectives. A protégé of the legendary Helmut Newton, Holz has become known for beautiful black and white nudes, which he has been shooting since 1974. 

A native of Oak Ridge Tennessee, Holz received his first camera as a gift at age 15, a classic Minolta SR-T 101. After graduating from high school, Holz traveled to Europe and Israel, practicing travel and documentary photography. Holz traveled to California to continue his photographic studies at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. While there, he apprenticed with master photographer Helmut Newton, assisting him on the shoots for what would become iconic images. Newton encouraged Holz to go to Europe to further his education, and Holz spent several years at the beginning of his career in Milan, where his fashion editorials appeared in European publications such as Vogue Italia, Linea Italiana, Lei, Madame Figaro, and French Elle. He then returned to Los Angeles and focused on shooting album covers, including Madonna's Borderline in 1983.

After his success in Europe and LA, Holz moved to New York in the mid-80s, where he opened his  studio in Greenwich Village. He continued to shoot fashion editorial for Harper's Bazaar, Interview Magazine and the New York Times, and began celebrity portraiture as well; publishing his images in In Style, Glamour, Arena, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, GQ and Vanity Fair. Holz has shot countless celebrities from the world of music, film, sports and politics including President Clinton, Michael Jordan, Jack Nicholson, Angelina Jolie and Beyonce.

Holz’ advertising work included advertising campaigns for Elizabeth Arden, Bloomingdale's, DeBeers and Max Factor, in addition to a Clio Award-winning campaign for the International Gold Corporation. 

Holz continued to lens the artwork for a number of albums, including those of Mariah Carey, Joan Jett, Chaka Kahn and Shania Twain. In 1990, he won a Grammy for his artwork on Suzanne Vega's album Days of Open Hand. Holz also began shooting movie posters, including those for Face/Off, The General's Daughter, Along Came a Spider, and Glitter, as well as the print campaigns for TV shows House, Fringe, and Smash.

His first gallery shows took place in Europe, with solo exhibits in Budapets, Hungary, and at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna in 1990, and was part of a group show at Laforet  Museum in Tokyo in 1993. In 1997-98, his exhibition "Original Sin" was exhibited at the Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles, the Staley Wise Gallery in New York City the Gallery for Fine Photography in New Orleans, the John Cleary Gallery in Houston and the Robert Klein Gallery in Boston, also traveling to fine art galleries in New Orleans, Houston, and San Francisco. Holz' work is in the permanent collection of the Interantional Museum of Photoraphy and Film at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York and the Centro Cultural/Arte Contemporaneo in Mexico City.

Today, Holz is based in New York City and his farm in Upstate New York. His monograph of celebrity portraits, HOLZ HOLLYWOOD, will be published by Damiani Editore in Spring 2014. 

I believe I have a bit of Helmut Newton ingrained in my photographic DNA. It is not surprising that Helmut and June would be persistent influences on my creative life. Influence is not a bad thing. It’s the starting point.

The thread running through my personal work is the celebration, (the exaltation) of the female form, nuanced in many locations and shades of expression: extrovert, athletic, sexual, insular, somnolent. Most of the work in the show was photographed on film, which I still do. I am constantly chasing the light and love how it sculpts the body. I have always been a stickler for beautiful light, and for photographic technique and process - those fundamentals hammered into all of us during the formative years at Art Center. From inception to finished print, the commitment to technique remains paramount. And, in contrast to the large scale production required in my commercial jobs, I function alone with minimal equipment for my personal work - solitary, pared down to keep me photographically honest. 

Three years ago, I moved from a Manhattan studio to a farm in upstate New York, and the focus of my personal work has changed. I turned from engaging supermodels in exotic locations to photographing the girl next door in a natural setting. And thus, location itself became a character in each piece of work.  

A second turning point for me was the exhibition at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin in 2010. I had been struggling to find time for personal work. Once June set the wheels into motion for the Berlin show, my priorities shifted and time opened up for the fine art sessions. 

I am on the road a lot for work and discovered that a hotel room in a strange place, fortuitously, becomes a “private world”, a little studio away from home. The light and décor, at once transitory and suggestive, help to catalyze the image, the posture of the sitter. 

I continue to explore the physical and expressive capacity of the human body. Some images strive to capture the physical extension of the body, its vulnerability and proximity to peril, to pain, while others suggest apotheosis and ecstasy. Looking to the future, I will be drawn to work in color, a consequence perhaps of living in the country full time, in an environment saturated by continually changing colors, light, shadows, texture. I am stretching to find the technique to accommodate the rich palette now available to me. 


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