The images of photographer Roberto Rabanne have captured the energy, complexity and beauty in music, fashion and art for more than four decades.
Roberto Rabanne began his career in New York as the influences of the counter culture were being felt on music, fashion, art and politics.
His iconic photographs of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Rolling Stones, Bob Marley, The Grateful Dead and other great rock bands quickly earned him a reputation as a master at capturing the exhilaration of live performances on film, as well as the private off stage moments.
In 1967 Rabanne befriended Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. The legendary musician gave him priority access and allowed Rabanne to do many photos of him and the band.
“I have a simple philosophy about photography, the image has to be powerful” explains Rabanne. “I find that happens when you capture the subject engaging in the non-defensive, unguarded essence that is truly ‘them.’ The picture always has to tell a story, but in doing so, you can break all the rules.”
Outspokenness, veracity, defiance and a willingness to seek out and walk the edge in life and in art, these are the themes that have shaped Rabanne’s creative sensibilities during his long remarkable career he has reached the pinnacles of the music and fashion worlds.
“Roberto’s magic lies in his ability to completely surrender to his subject,” comments Bret Primak, the noted jazz writer, on Rabanne’s work. “His work is egoless; in fact, he’s practically an invisible part of the process. He always comes away with so much because he takes only what is offered from his subject. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Rabanne’s Rock photos were published in magazines like Rolling Stone, Crawdaddy, Cream and the East VillageOther. They ran the gamut of the great bands from the Grateful Dead and Quicksilver to Big Brother and the Holding Company, Cream, Dylan, Jefferson Airplane, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and others from Back in the day.
Later on, Rabanne’s interests expanded to include jazz and reggae. Shooting for Down Beat, Jazz Express, Goldmine, NME and numerous recording companies, his extensive archives includes the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Carmen Mc Rae, Betty Carter, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Bob Marley and scores of others as he became the official photographer of the Monterey Jazz Festival. In the early 1980’s, Rabanne returned to live permanently in New York and was soon looking for new challenges.
The legendary Alexander Lieberman, then Editorial Director of Conde Nast publications noticed his work and encouraged Rabanne to try his hand at shooting high fashion, and the women who wear them for Vogue magazine. Rabanne quickly became one of the most sought after high fashion photographers in the business. He was always on the road photographing the collections in Milan, Paris, London and New York.
His work appeared in dozens of magazines including G.Q., Vogue, L’ Officiel, Depeche Mode, New York, Seventeen and others. Rabanne soon amassed high profile clients including Yves St. Laurent, Givenchy, Armani, Dior, Versace, Montana, Jean Paul Gautier and Fiorucci. Both Women’s Wear Daily and Details magazines proclaimed him an “important new photographer”.
His fashion photography is noted for it’s gritty, sexy and provocative edge. His photos are often compared to the works of Guy Bourdin and Helmut Newton, whom he considers as his greatest influence.
The fashion and music worlds often find themselves intertwined and again, Rabanne is always in the right place at the right time. His lens not only captured the salable image, but also the lifestyle that defined the era.
As his career continued to blossom, and Rabanne branched out into TV commercials and promotional videos for clients including Toyota, DKNY, Visa, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Volvo and Honda, among others.
Later, he founded and published Fashion Preview which, like Colllezioni, became a bible in the fashion trade. With the coming of the digital age, Rabanne expanded his interests to the Internet and became the Creative Director of supermodel.com and other fashion-related web sites. He has toured retrospectives of his work in San Francisco, New York, London, Tokyo, Barcelona, Miami and Paris.
Rabanne’s vast archive of historical photographs and video has been seen recently on several episodes of VH-1’s ‘Behind the Music’ series, film documentaries, A & E’s ‘Biography’ series, Saturday Night Live, Conan O’Brien and other television programs. He has several photographs in the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame and is often published in fashion catalogues and magazines including Spin, Rolling Stone, Downbeat, Woman, Manner Vogue and others.
Rabanne Design is using the latest cutting edge techniques in digital photography to print his fine art work on unorthodox surfaces and explore new mediums including large format prints from his vast library of music, fashion, travel, and nature photographs.
At the 2010 London Summer Olympics in London, Roberto was the featured artist at the high profile homage to Muhammad Ali ” In the Rings with Ali” on Ali’s 70th birthday.