A legendary Hollywood lensman finds divine inspiration anew in ordinary people.
Matthew Rolston’s “Da Vinci, The Last Supper “ (2016, detail) is a visual feast.
Breathtaking photography is nothing new to Matthew Rolston. You could blindfold the man, hand him an old-school Instamatic, point him at the blandest of subjects, and he could still shoot something that would make you weep with joy over the promise of mankind.
But the latest exhibit by the worldrenowned artist extends the awe factor to a new dimension. In Art People: The Pageant Portraits, which is open to the public’s gaze through Feb. 23 at the Ralph Pucci LA showroom, Rolston applies his uberkeen instincts in a meta purpose: the subjects were all participants in this summer’s Pageant of the Masters in Laguna Beach, where they reenacted great works of art through history with living, breathing humans in astonishing makeup, and then Rolston photographed them.
From work of art (painting) to work of art (living poses at the pageant) to work of art (photography), Rolston was captivated by why ordinary individuals— supermarket checkers, teachers, local business owners— would want to participate in the pageant. Heck, Rolston himself appeared in the event’s touchstone presentation, “The Last Supper,” so he must know.
“It raises the question, ‘Why do people make art?’” he explains. “The creation of art is a deeply human practice. It speaks to not only the intellectual and spiritual side of men, but also to more inchoate primitive drives. No other species on the planet—at least that we know of—practices such an activity. It is a dening human behavior.”
Rolston’s work has appeared in W, Vogue, GQ, Esquire and just about every publication that puts a premium on beauty and glamour, and he has also directed scads of videos and commercials. But rarely has his eye loomed larger than it does from the massive frames currently hanging in the Pucci showroom. What becomes a legend most? Don’t miss it.