Delaware Art Museum Present First Exhibition of Photographs of Scott Heiser

December 13, 2013

Delaware Art Museum
Wilmington, DE
December 13, 2013

The Delaware Art Museum is pleased to present the first retrospective exhibition dedicated to the photographer Scott Heiser (1949-1993), a Wilmington, Delaware native. Fashion, Circus, Spectacle: Photographs by Scott Heiser, on view March 8 – June 1, 2014, introduces the accomplishments of Heiser’s vibrant career, presenting 80 stunning black-and-white prints produced by the artist, as well as a slideshow of his seldom-seen color photographs. Heiser’s images document the cultural cross-pollination of art, fashion, and photography in New York in the 1970s and 80s.

Heiser was best known for his grainy, wildly cropped glimpses of fashion runway shows, which appeared in Interview between 1978 and 1986. The magazine sent him around New York, Paris, and Milan to capture fashions by Claude Montana, Yves Saint Laurent, Shamask, and Issey Miyake. He provided an insider’s view of the shows and captured the movement of the clothing and the energy of the scene.

Heiser also chronicled the vibrant cultural landscape of New York City, producing portraits of Andy Warhol, Jamie Wyeth, Debbie Harry, Marianne Faithfull, Alberta Hunter, and Robert Wilson for Interview, Soho Weekly News, and Paper. In the early 1980s, Heiser expanded his field, beginning to document a wide range of public entertainments, including circuses, dance competitions, the Miss America Pageant, the Ice Capades, and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.

He brought a unique perspective to his subjects, focusing on significant details, arresting figures in motion, and capturing individuals on the fringes of large events. His extreme angles and eccentric cropping intensified the strangeness of these performances, drawing comparisons with Surrealist photographers like Man Ray and André Kertész. Heiser was also influenced by earlier photographers, such as Cecil Beaton, George Platt Lynes, Diane Arbus, and Garry Winogrand.

Although his work was published and shown frequently during his lifetime, Heiser has never been the subject of a museum exhibition, and no monograph about him has been published. The Delaware Art Museum owns nine of his fashion photographs, which were the inspiration for this exhibition.

“When I encountered these photographs in storage, I was captivated by the dramatic compositions and beautiful printing,” explains Heather Campbell Coyle, Curator of American Art at the Delaware Art Museum. “I couldn’t believe that he wasn’t better known. It is such an exciting opportunity to rediscover his photographs and present them again to the world.”

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