Design & Living / Who, What, Why

Bruce Weber: Detroit

We delve into Bruce Weber's rose-tinted depiction of Detroit

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Shaletta Porterfield, Student, Detroit, Michigan, 2006
Shaletta Porterfield, Student, Detroit, Michigan, 2006© Bruce Weber

Who? There are few photographers as revered as Bruce Weber. During a career spanning 36 years, he has crafted some of the most iconic – and at times controversial – images of our generation. The bearded, bandana-sporting maestro behind an instantly recognisable series of hyper sexualised Calvin Klein ads and the infinitely dreamy shot of a young Leonardo Dicaprio holding a ‘Kiss Me’ sign, he has a midas touch behind the camera.

What? In 2006, Weber travelled to Detroit to shoot Kate Moss for W Magazine. It was during this trip he begun a love affair with the city that is the subject of his most recent exhibition, Detroit – Bruce Weber. Shown at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 2014, it was a compilation of images taken during his time in the city in 2006 and 2013.

Why? Weber’s vividly human view of Detroit comes as a welcome change to the more widespread depiction of the city as a decaying wasteland, wreathed in poverty and drugs. He chose to capture a number of the city's luminaries and landmarks, from Patti Smith and Iggy Pop, to Aretha Franklin and the gravestone of the late Rosa Parks, alongside cheerful snaps of local Detroitians going about their day-to-day lives. Although not an ad campaign, Weber's commercial wizardry has still made an appearance, in his elegaic depiction of a positive side to a city so often viewed through gloom-tinted glasses.

This article is part of a series celebrating Detroit, in partnership with Shinola. Bruce Weber most recently returned to Detroit to shoot the Shinola campaign – read more here.

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