Those of us who follow fashion and photography tend to have a favorite image of Kate Moss. I have two: Corinne Day’s portrait (styled by Melanie Ward) of a laughing and feather-headdressed Kate for a 1990 cover of The Face; and Mario Sorrenti’s 1993 image of her, with its deep shadow and her eyes looking at once tender and wary. The early ’90s announced a more stripped-down view of fashion – call it grunge, if you like – and the waif Kate fit the bill as she inspired an industry.
A decade later, in 2003, the artist Chuck Close was still justified in saying of Ms. Moss: “She’s not selling a product. The product is her.” His remark was made in the context of a special issue of W magazine, for which 17 artists, including Mr. Close, were asked to make works around her. She had already served as an artist muse, for Lucian Freud and Gary Hume, among others. Despite his initial reservations about working with Ms. Moss, by then a celebrity, for a mainstream magazine, Mr. Close said, “It couldn’t have been lovelier.”
Ms. Moss does indeed occupy a unique if not privileged place in the world of model muses, a category that definitely could stand some new blood. To say that she has endured is not really saying anything about her particular and maybe ultimately elusive quality. To me, the Sorrenti portrait is still the money shot, the Holy Grail of Kate Moss portraits that seems to say to other artists: “Catch me if you can.” With good reason, then, it opens a new show at Danziger Projects, the gallery of James Danziger on West 24th Street.
Mr. Danziger, working with Ms. Moss, selected a favorite image from each of 11 leading photographers, including Bruce Weber, Juergen Teller, Terry Richardson and David Sims. “I had always been a Kate Moss fan but recognized early on that she brought something different to photography,” said Mr. Danziger, who mounted an exhibition of her images some years ago. This exhibition is somewhat unusual and worth seeing. The 11 portraits, each 30 inches by 24 inches and printed by David Adamson, are being sold as a limited-edition portfolio (starting at $75,000, with proceeds divided among the artists, the gallery and Ms. Moss). The art director Ruth Ansel designed the portfolio.
Of course, it’s interesting to see what the photographers and Ms. Moss chose. Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin picked a 2007 image, taken for French Vogue, of Ms. Moss astride a chopper. Mr. Teller settled on one in her London home.
I was also drawn to a group of Glen Luchford’s images displayed in the gallery’s back room (not part of the portfolio). Taken during one of Ms. Moss’s first visits to New York, they feel free of the image-making machinery of the last few years. Ms. Moss is certainly part of that commercial engine, like it or not, with her own clothing line and a bunch of endorsements. On July 2, she is expected to wed Jamie Hince of the Kills, no doubt setting off another media bomb.