Friday, November 27, 2009

Inspiration: Bob Carlos Clarke

I have long been a fan of Bob Carlos Clarke's work but was mainly familiar with his latter work especially the 2003 book Shooting Sex and his wonderful portraits of objects he found in the Thames. However, last year I discovered his early, long out of print book Obsession in my favorite used book shop in Saugerties, New York. I was amazed at the work, the toned black and white photos, the elaborate photo collages, every page was a feast for the eyes. I remember saying to myself " why haven't I seen this before?" and then I came to the photo titled Vampirella and I realized I had seen many of these images before when I was very young. I remember the image from one of my Dad's magazines, I think it might have been OUI which he had a collection of (a google search has revealed a 1983 issue featuring Bob's work).  As soon as I saw the images in Obsession it all came back to me, stnading in my Dad's study looking at the pages in awe of these images that were unlike anything I had ever seen before or would probably see again until over twenty years later.

Since I purchased Obsession I have been trying to mimmick the toning and photo-montage techniques that Bob employed using photoshop. This photo is my most successful to date. I would like to try making a Gum Dichromate print out of this or perhaps printing it to canvas and then painting over it.

Getting back to Bob, I am curious as to why the majority of his early work is nearly impossible to find anywhere, maybe I should inquire with his estate. I do wish more were familiar with his wonderful work.  


  1. I had a similar experience with Architectects: William Katavolos is a Pratt Professor who built structures with plastic sheeting & water in his Pratt basement. (Only found one NYPress article about him)

    Also, Dutch Architect Hans Hollien, obsessed with curved and elevated concrete and wetal structures, is similarly undocumented. Glad you found what you were looking for.

    The books "Circle" and "Square" are another lost treasure of my past. They discussed design and were organized alphabetically, with no need for an index. Needless to say, those titles do not work as search terms. :)