Stoecker images make you look twice

Posted April 6, 2015


When someone told me there was a photography collection at the Harold Golen Gallery in Wynwood that hadn’t been seen in more than 36 years, I had to look.

Photographs that portray or mimic history are my favorite. And I was not disappointed with this collection.

The photographer is Karl Stoecker, an American who produced the photos in 1972-74 in London.

My favorites are the photos of the women, which make up almost the entire collection.

They’re retro. They’re dramatic. They have this over-the-top-drag-queen style.

The images are on sale. You probably wouldn’t put one of these photographs in your home with your family. But it would make a great conversation starter in your chic LA or NYC apartment while you’re young.

Stoecker has saturated the colors making the photographs and the subjects bold. These photographs definitely make a statement – to say the least.

There’s one photograph, part of the “Gala Pinup” section of the collection, that portrays a woman in what looks like a red and white flamenco dress, holding a white flower in her hand as she smells it. The background is black but you can tell she’s lying down, or she could look like she’s floating too. The red is extremely enhanced. The contrast in the colors – white, red and black – add drama to a relatively unoriginal photographic pose.

My absolute favorite photograph is the “Sparks Kimono My House Cover Album (Green).” This depicts two Asian women in kimonos, standing and smoking cigarettes. Their hair is in messy buns and they look relaxed. The background is an intense, bright yellow. Your eyes go straight to look at the background first, but the color of the kimonos – one is white with orange and blue and the other is a bright aqua – bring your eyes to the forefront to look at the subjects.

Even with the dramatic coloring and the uncommon subject, there’s realness in this photo.

There are only two black and white photographs of the twenty photos in the collection. The first I saw is of a woman posing in front of a “Hard Rock” sign titled “Hard Rock #1.” At first, this one seemed a little boring to me. But once you take a closer look you see in the reflection of the glass behind her that there are men looking at her, and she’s posing for them.

My favorite part about it is the outfit. So 1940s, from her hair to her heels.

The next black and white one is titled “Hard Rock #2.” It’s a woman, leaning on a table looking down at a waitress who looks like she’s taking her order down in a pad. The woman leaning on the table is wearing leather pants, has a lot of cleavage and is sipping a milkshake from a straw.

I’m not entirely sure if the photographs have any other purpose except aesthetics. They aren’t deep, meaningful photos. But they’re interesting and although retro women and saturated photos like those of Andy Warhol have been done before, Stoecker manages to be original. And he’s provocative.

Part of the collection is a series called “The Allan Jones Series.” Again, saturated and intense colors. But these are only the bodies of the women from hip down.

One photograph has a woman posing with one leg bent in front of the other. The color is pink. She has a bright pink skirt and red shoes. But the red blends in with the pink and red that he’s brought out of the color of her legs. The background is a shade of dark pink going into a lighter pink. Lots of pink, which could sound overwhelming but works well because it’s only 17 inches x 22 inches. It stands out.

The photographs of the men are my least favorite because they aren’t anything special. One photograph, titled “Brian Eno #1,” has musician Brian Eno posing with a guitar in a typical rock star outfit – black and shiny. It’s just not unique and I wouldn’t look at it twice. I would think I’d have already seen it.

I was intrigued when I heard “history” in his collection and I was captured by his style – a common subject with uncommon colors. The colors are so saturated the subjects almost look graphic or cartoon.

It’s dramatic and over-the-top in the best way.

  • Harold Golen Gallery; 2294 NW 2nd Ave., Miami, Fla. 33127
  • Open only on Saturdays from 1-5 p.m, or by appointment. This collection is viewable until April 4, 2015
  • Karl Stoeckor: “Glam Rock”
  • Photography collection
  • Price range: $600-$3200