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Flat Butts are Normal Butts

8 Sep

Lately there has been a ton of scrutiny placed on published photos of incredibly skinny models who are made to look even skinnier “in post”. The media has blown this issue up often publishing before and after photos of the same shoot illustrating how heavy-handed certain retouchers can be. In response, it seems the fashion world, and not high fashion, (heavens, no) but mainstream fashion like Lane Bryant, Ann Taylor and some magazines have begun to speak out about this practice and supposedly tone it down.

Additionally people—and by people, I mean celebrities (so not real people)—have been emphasizing how photoshop free they are! “Look at me! I’m fearless because I’m going on the cover of Vogue and I am telling those nasty retouchers to stay the hell away from this face!” Of course, these celebrities are drenched in make-up, work out 6 hours a day and eat leaves, but that is beside the point!

Clearly all these half-assed responses to the photoshopping problem are PR clean-ups and such. But, hey, if the end result means little girls don’t look at waifs with unreasonably smooth body parts and wish to Jebus that they could have smooth body parts just like their emaciated counterparts, then I’m okay with this.

Anywho – I’m blabbing because Jezebel featured an article about a particular portrait of Sophie Dahl by David LaChapelle and how freakin’ photoshopped the final image was.

David LaChapelle's Portrait Of Sophie Dahl Gets Photoshopped

Jezebel points out all the differences (reminding me distinctly of my favorite bar game, Erotic Photo Hunt)

What was once a grittier, realistic portrayal of a size 14 woman, became a glitzy, contrasty and flashy version of a seemingly thinner-than-size-14-woman.

Now listen, nothing pisses me off more than the emphasis on disgustingly thin women as the ideal of beauty. It’s unrealistic, its bad for the female psyche and its unhealthy in so many ways. This picture, however, may be photoshopped and post-production-ed up the wazoo, but this is not an example of the aforementioned offenses. This is David LaChappelle, people. As one Jezebel commenter so astutely pointed out, LaChapelle is more a “fine artist” than a production artist or retoucher. And this is true, in my opinion. If you look at any of his celebrity work, you will clearly see how outrageous and unrealistic most, if not all, his subjects become after the actual photograph is taken.

Let’s find some good ones for you:

Elton John, flying high in a sea of cherries and cheetahs. Oh, and bananas:

The same woman, Amanda, as Andy Warhol’s Liz and Marilyn Monroe:

And Christina Aguilera after falling into a Lisa Frank illustration:

So the point is, I don’t think Sophie Dahl was exactly misrepresented here. Her photo ended up looking different because that’s what LaChapelle does. His work is created in the studio and on the computer and he makes some pretty cool stuff. Even if you don’t like his work, you can admit he has a distinct, consistent style and Dahl’s portrait fits right into his general aesthetic.

I would like to ad that I prefer the original version of the photo to the published, flashier one. It has a quality to it that is refreshing, right? It also makes me happy  to see butts looking like real butts and a portrait of a real-life, normal human being.




24 Aug

I’d like to kick off this blog talking about something that is super cool. Crime. Agree or disagree???

Okay sooooo, I don’t think it’s good per se but there is something fascinating to me about thievery especially in the art world. Perhaps Dan Brown and his DaVinci Code got to me too, (though I doubt it because his writing sucks) but something inside me tingles when I get to read a little ditty on stolen artwork.

Van Gogh's "Poppy Flowers"

I bring this up now, because as some of you may know there was a Van Gogh painting worth an estimated $55 million stolen from the Mahmoud Khalil Museum in Cairo, Egypt. Apparently out of the 43 cameras in said museum, only seven were working. Oh, and none of the alarms were working either. Great security! Top notch, really. I’m surprised the initially suspected Italian couple didn’t actually wander off with 23 paintings in the guy’s Italian leather, Gucci man-purse.

Now they’ve beefed up security and what not, but like –a little too little too late!  Am I right??? Anyone?? People have been arrested, borders are being patrolled, corruption is likely spreading by the minute and someone is writing this movie script as we speak.

On the bright side, it’s a darn tootin’ good thing this happened for the crime fighters out there.  Think of all the mummy-related mysteries this will entail and all the codes that will have to be cracked by the detectives, likely an attractive, well-dressed woman and her handsome male counterpart with a smart hat and fabulous one-liners. Though it may be real life, I’m sure their investigation (which will end with them falling for each other, naturally, recovering the painting and instead of turning it in, hanging it on the wall in their secret love nest in St. Bart’s) will be full of glamour and movie-magic. Rooms will be dark, power will go out, large caves of Egyptian treasures will abound. Man, I should have gone into international crime fighting.

But alas, I did not. And here I write, not in support of art thievery because let’s be honest, it’s an utter travesty that this particular painting was cut out of it’s frame thus changing it forever. That makes me very, very sad. Yet there is something mysterious and interesting about the underground world of art that I want to know more about! So I slurp up these stories like I do my grandmommy’s matzah ball soup (mmmm, so good).

If you are like me and have a hankering for some real life art mystery, you should read The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser. I enjoyed it very much and it whet my appetite for more, more, MORE! I was also recommended The Rescue Artist by a nice old man employee at Borders once. So perhaps check that one out too!