After their debut at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin in 2009 and further performances in New York and Paris, now an exclusive selection of works by the Three Boys from Pasadena will be on display at Kaune, Sudendorf Gallery
The Three Boys from Pasadena are Mark Arbeit, George Holz and Just Loomis. Besides their mutual profession and a passion for photography, these men share a common past. From the early 1980s all three were assistants to famous photographer Helmut Newton who tragically died in 2004. They look back on a long and intensive period of mentorship and friendship with Newton and his wife June, who initiated and curated the joint exhibition and tribute to her husband.
It all began in the darkroom of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, where Mark Arbeit and George Holz met for the first time. Just Loomis also studied at the Art Center at the time and admired the commercial work Arbeit was doing for a boutique in Beverly Hills. The school was very hands-on and commercially oriented, most of their teachers being photographers themselves; keen to have their students take the direct route to employment. During the third year of his studies a class assignment brought Mark Arbeit to the boutique, not expecting the following fateful encounter: One day shop owner Lina Lee tipped him off that Helmut Newton would stop by, and he and George Holz held out for several hours in front of her shop to meet one of their great role models. Their patience and perseverance was rewarded with an invitation from Newton to meet him at his hotel. They brought along Just Loomis and found themselves in the lobby of the Beverly Hills Hotel with their portfolios in hands. It was there they got their first job as Location Scouts together. Helmut Newton had a significant influence on the lives and careers of the three artists. Although each of them has developed his own style over the years you will always find a piece of Newton in each of their works.
George Holzs photography shows perhaps the most influence. In many of his female nudes the harsh contrasts and monumental style of Newton can be found. He also draws inspiration from his love of nature. Stunning scenery and the very distinct appreciation of graphic composition are reminiscent of photographic pioneers such as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. Holz knows how to make the most from his resources. One of the most important lessons he has learned from Helmut Newton is to blur the lines between commercial and personal work and that it is essential to take advantage of synergies. Holzs paintings are very direct, sexually charged, almost provocative. He doesnt hide the fact that he loves women and the female body.
While George Holz loves directing his subjects, Just Loomis is more reserved, waiting for the right moment to press the button. Above all he is interested in people, their stories and desires. His documentary photographic series ,As we are is often compared to Robert Franks The Americans, because it tells the story of the everyday life of people from the American West in an honest and empathetic way. In fact, one of his great photographic role models is Diane Arbus. The openness and curious sympathy she used to approach people can also be found in Just Loomis pictures. Whether children, waitresses, strippers or fashion models, his own family, the homeless or lonely strangers, all allow him and his camera an intimate sight into their lives. According to Loomis, he first tried to copy Helmut Newton, realized that he couldnt and finally reversed his work to the contrary. His pictures are a response to a long personal dialogue with his mentor more with regard to content than form. Newton advised him to look back to his roots for inspiration. Loomis did and presented his wonderful series, As we are including early photographs from 1975 followed up with later works until 2009.
As Mark Arbeit settled in Paris in 1985, he devoted himself increasingly to fine art photography and his own projects. Here he found peer support in a group called ,The Cauldron, founded by former students of the Art Center, which also included George Holz and Just Loomis. After,In and Out of Focus, a work group of floral pictures with female nudes, he was doing the series ,Artist Atelier, for which he photographed female nudes in Parisian artists studios and which was launched in 1992. Newton had taught him how to work with natural, available light. Irving Penn, to whom he also was an assistant at one point, awakened his passion for indirect light, which is exactly what is found in artists studios. One can sense the presence of the artist, although he is not in the room. But his art, the art supplies, and the model are sufficient to completely merge to a single unit and to exude his aura. Being strongly influenced by surrealism, it can be no surprise that his personal work reminds us a lot of Man Ray, for whom he also shares deep appreciation.