In Pictures: Bob Carlos Clarke’s Provocative Photographs of Women

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Bob Carlos Clarke at Saint Laurent Rive Droit
Bob Carlos Clarke at Saint Laurent Rive DroitPhotography by Bob Carlos Clarke. Courtesy of Saint Laurent

Heralded as Britain’s answer to Helmut Newton, a new exhibition at Saint Laurent’s Rive Droit stores displays a selection of imagery by Bob Carlos Clarke exploring themes of fetish, lust and power

Bob Carlos Clarke had been capturing glamour, lust and rock and roll for decades before he ended his life in 2006. The photographer’s seminal images of the underground fetish scene, his fashion imagery during the 90s supermodel boom, and images starring Keith Richards and Marco Pierre White paint a portrait of an enchanting era of a magnetic community. Now, curated by Saint Laurent creative director Anthony Vaccarello, a selection of the photographer’s work is being exhibited in the French label’s Rive Droite stores in Paris and Los Angeles.

Born in Cork, Ireland in 1950, Carlos Clarke later moved to London to train as a journalist, where he was exposed to an array of subversive cultures, using his analogue camera to distil the memories of his hedonistic evenings. Primarily capturing women in rubber and latex in black and white, the striking body of work caught the attention of magazines, where he was soon commissioned to take portraits of celebrities such as former AnOther Magazine cover star Rachel Weisz, who donned an oil-slick rubber catsuit for a gothic photo story.

His photo study of Pierre White’s restaurant Harveys in the late 80s featured in White Heat, the bestselling cookbook by the famed chef, where he shifted the focus not just onto the dishes, but to the skilled, flustered chefs that created them. The deterioration of Carlos Clarke’s mental health is documented in the book Exposure: The Unusual Life and Violent Death of Bob Carlos Clarke by Simon Garfield, while his provocative, sometimes humorous works live on in exhibitions and galleries around the world. 20 confronting photographs have been selected by Saint Laurent for display, including Carlos Clarke’s seminal images of Keith Richards, Elton John, and a number of his still lives.