Review by Gerhard Clausing •
Ah, the glorious 1980s – an era that still featured iconic photographs on LP album covers and inner sleeves and fabulous musicians portrayed in those images. Since then, vinyl has achieved a resurgence, and many of the musicians are still around, and others have certainly not been forgotten …
What a great time for Glen Wexler, a highly respected photographer of the industry, to now publish this photobook of his stellar portraits created in the pre-digital era. We are presented with 63 superb studies of individuals and groups, with a special emphasis on musicians, but also including other performers. Many are well known; the list reads like the Who is Who of the entertainment industry – Michael Jackson, ZZ Top, Chaka Khan, Gene Simmons and KISS, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, and many more, as well as actresses such as Christina Applegate. Among the others included are instrumentalists, models, composers, and producers.
What sets this book of portraits apart is more than the stellar artists that are presented. It is the superb skill of Glen Wexler. Each portrait constitutes a photographic insight into the artistic strength and appeal of each individual or group, along with glimpses of their vulnerability. The viewer can practically feel the entertainment verve and approach emerging from each artist portrayed; we are also able to sense the excitement that each is capable of creating in their chosen performance field.
The second factor that makes this book special is the excellent printing of the images. It should be noted that each portrait is especially coated with a glossy spot varnish, which gives it a special appearance with enhanced contrast and clarity. This quality is impossible to reproduce in the small replica pages below; you simply have to look at the book itself. The notes provided by Glen Wexler regarding the circumstances of the portrait sessions are also a significant enhancement. The foreword by Billy F Gibbons of the group ZZ Top affords us insights into the process from the perspective of performers who were photographed by Glen Wexler. The introduction by Thomas Negovan and the essay by Andrew Burgess are valuable contributions to our understanding of Glen Wexler’s photographic acumen as well as the settings and cultural frameworks surrounding the work.
This is the coffee table book par excellence, of a generous size that is a pleasure to behold!
Glen Wexler – The ’80s Portrait Sessions
Photographer: Glen Wexler (born in Palm Springs, California; resides in Los Angeles, California)
Publisher: Dark Spring Press, Tucson, Arizona; © 2019
Texts: Foreword by Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top); introduction by Thomas Negovan; essay by Andrew Burgess; details about each portrait by Glen Wexler
Hardcover, linen-bound with illustrated dust jacket; 132 unpaginated pages with 63 tritone images, each gloss-spot-varnished for contrast and depth; 12 x 12 ¼ inches; printed in Brea, California by Dual Graphics; bound by Roswell Bookbinders