Celebrated fashion photographer Bruce Weber gets Prague retrospective

The American photographer's first ever major European retrospective charts five decades of his work for Vogue, GQ, W Magazine, Vanity Fair, and more.

Ioana Caloianu

Written by Ioana Caloianu Published on 10.06.2024 16:32:00 (updated on 10.06.2024) Reading time: 4 minutes

Art and photography aficionados in Prague should save the date: on Sept. 20, Dům U Kamenného zvonu (the Stone Bell House) will open its doors to “Bruce Weber: My Education,” an exhibition presenting the works of the American photographer. Weber's first ever major European retrospective charts five decades of his work, which spans portrait, reportage, and landscape photography, along with his fashion campaigns, music videos, and feature films.

Crafting a fantasy for the fashion world

In an interview with The Guardian in 2002, Baker said that his movie Chop Suey matches his personal journey from his birthplace, Greensburg, Pennsylvania, to the upper echelons of the New York art world. “I wanted to show people,” he says, “what it was like to be somebody who had a life that was contained in the Midwest, and who went on this journey, this adventure, and what his life became as a result.”

His early years created a “huge kind of fantasy life,” Weber says, centered around fashion magazines, which shaped his worldview and made him aware of the currency that beauty represents.

“I'd always be looking at Vogue. Sometimes now, when I am photographing young people, and I'm with a whole group of perfect bodies, it seems to me they have no fantasy life at all,” Weber says, adding “perhaps that's the payoff.”

Bruce Weber: Zac Rupprecht
Bruce Weber: Zac Rupprecht

Jiří Pospíšil, Deputy Mayor for Culture and Tourism, highlighted the “rare opportunity” presented by the exhibition, which exposes audiences in Prague to a contemporary artist combining “with great empathy and creativity such different worlds as street life and the world of film and fashion industry.”

Weber’s connection to the Czech Republic dates back to the early 2000s when he photographed actor Heath Ledger while filming A Knight's Tale at the Barrandov Film Studios. He has also collaborated with Czech celebrities such as supermodel, actress Eva Herzigova, and former tennis player Martina Navratilova.

What sets Weber apart in the world of photography is his “broad thematic scope,” Pospíšil says, together with his “truly profound insight and understanding of the peripheral, burlesque and vibrant events of contemporary events.”

Finding the perfect location

Speaking about the choice of location, which is the stunning 13th-century gothic gallery space Stone Bell House, Eva Lindemann-Sanchez, the co-producer of the exhibition, told Expats.cz she felt “an immediate connection” when visiting the building.

This is not just because of its location on the Old Town Square, and its historic beauty, but due to an informality that matched Weber’s work. “The floors are not even, every gallery has a different wall space, which is in line with Weber’s style, of things not being formal, but having a history behind them,” Lindemann-Sanchez says.

Patti Smith
Patti Smith by Bruce Weber

Getting into the spirit of Weber’s works

For those who aren’t acquainted with Weber’s works, Lindemann-Sanchez describes it as “naturalist, using natural light, focused on the physical form, beauty, romance, whimsy, dreams and fun.” She adds that, despite the span of Weber’s career, his work continues to be as relevant today as it was when he started out due to its timeless qualities. The ultimate goal of the exhibition is to offer visitors “an emotional experience” while connecting with the photographs, Lindemann-Sanchez concludes. 

Weber has been doing shows that are primarily commercial and focused on one theme, but this is a different ballgame since we are covering five decades of his work, including his early work, his inspiration, and his film work seen from different angles,” giving viewers “a full scope” of Weber’s essence. 

Creative producer Milosh Harajda, an avid fan of Weber’s since his teenage years, told Expats.cz that the upcoming exhibition is innovative because it shows the photographer through an art history lens.

The exhibition title, “My Education,” is an homage to everybody who influenced the photographer; Harajda adds, “All the people who educated and shaped his vision, authors, intellectuals, sportsmen,” echoing Weber’s impression that whenever he photographed someone, he was “invited into their world.”

On another level, Harajda adds that, as a visitor, one can be educated “about a multitude of topics, ranging from fashion to politics to art history” through Weber’s works, making the dialogue work both ways. 

Golden Retrievers, Bruce Weber
Golden Retrievers by Bruce Weber

bruce weber: fast facts

  • Weber is best known for his photo series for fashion magazines such as Vogue, GQ, W, The Interview, and Vanity Fair.
  • He has photographed many prominent cultural and political figures, including former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, American painter Georgia O'Keeffe, and French American artist Louise Bourgeois.
  • Weber is also drawn to nature and animals, particularly Golden Retrievers, the star of his photography book The Golden Retriever Photographic Society.

Bruce Weber: My Education
Sept. 20, 2024, to June 26, 2025
Stone Bell House (House U Kamenného zvonu)
Staroměstské náměstí 605/13, Prague 1

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