What We Learned This Week: The Fashion World Fires Terry Richardson

By David Schonauer   Thursday November 2, 2017

First it was Conde Nast.

Then the rest of the fashion world fired Terry Richardson.

On Oct. 23, we learned that Condé Nast International executive vice president James Woolhouse had sent a memo saying that the company would no longer be working with the fashion photographer, who, noted The Telegraph, has for years “been dogged by allegations of sexual exploitation of models.” Select staffers were told that any work already commissioned from Richardson but not yet published should be “killed or substituted with other material.”

The move came after revelations of sexual harassment by film producer Harvey Weinstein and the publication of an article in The Sunday Times of London  asking why Richardson was still being “feted by fashionistas” despite his reputation.

The next day, reported The New York Times, Condé Nast’s American organization released a statement saying: “Condé Nast has nothing planned with Terry Richardson going forward. Sexual harassment of any kind is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.”

Porter, the Net-a-Porter magazine, then said it was no longer working with Richardson, added the Times, as did Hearst magazines, which owns Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Esquire and Marie Claire. Richardson had already been commissioned to shoot the January cover of Elle and had recently done so. It is now being redone by another photographer. WWD reported that The Wall Street Journal’s luxury magazine WSJ no longer had plans to work with the photographer.

“Richardson has long shrugged off accusations of sexual assault as prude misunderstandings of his divisive artistic methods, characterizing ‘such rumors’ as a “disservice [...] to the spirit of artistic endeavor,” noted HuffPost. Recently, Richardson’s representatives released a statement to BuzzFeed News saying “Terry is disappointed to hear about this email especially because he has previously addressed these old stories. He is an artist who has been known for his sexually explicit work so many of his professional interactions with subjects were sexual and explicit in nature but all of the subjects of his work participated consensually.”

But The Times wondered if Richardson was just the tip of the iceberg, noting that “some industry insiders have begun to question whether fashion’s efforts to distance itself from Mr. Richardson is an attempt to Band-Aid over a deeper crisis.”

“The reality is that the floodgates are already open regarding Terry Richardson. He’s been blacklisted once before, and it’s not that much of an emotional, psychological or commercial leap to blacklist him again,” said model Edie Campbell. “The difficulty is addressing the other people — the ones who are celebrated by the fashion industry, and who are still at the very heart of it. This will not be solved simply by banning the use of one photographer.”

Following the news about Richardson, New York State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic announced she would introduce an amendment to the state’s current anti-discrimination laws that would extend certain protection to models, putting designers, photographers and retailers on notice that they would be liable for abuses experienced on their watch, reported The Times in another story.

Here are some of the other photo stories we spotlighted this week:

1. Unearthing a Massacre in Peru

Among the scores of mass graves that dot Chungui district in the mountainous Ayacucho region of Peru are remnants attesting to massacres carried out by both the Shining Path guerrillas and the military and police forces that hunted them, noted The New York Times, which featured work by Peruvian photojournalist Max Cabello Orcasitas, who became interested in the exhumation of the graves after reading a report from Peru’s truth commission. “It struck me as a little-known tragedy,” said Cabello Orcasitas.

2. Dina Litovsky in "Noisy and ChaoticTel Aviv

Dina Litovsky likes cities that are noisy, chaotic. and overwhelming. "My photography focuses on people and street scenes," she told us. "Cities like Tokyo and Hanoi that are so busy and kaleidoscopic, that's what I like. So when I found out I was going to Tel Aviv, I thought, this is a city where I can be myself." AFAR magazine sent Litovsky there for its "Spin the Globe" feature, in which someone - usually a writer - is sent to a city with just a 24-hour notice to be a flaneur. "This was the first time they've done it with a photographer,” noted Litovsky.

3. Brexit-Era Britain in "Merrie Albion"

With his acclaimed 2009 book We English, photographer Simon Roberts held a mirror up to a nation and its people. In his new book Merrie Albion – Landscape Studies of a Small Island  (Dewi Lewis Publishing), Roberts studies the UK's national psyche in the fractured Brexit era, noted the British Journal of Photography. The new work “responds to subjects and places that are already firmly positioned within the public consciousness – defining locations in our recent national story,” declares the publisher.

4. A Tribute of Discarded Library Books

The books featured in photographer Kerry Mansfield’s new book Expired  were beloved — hence the dog-eared pages of To Kill a Mockingbird   and the copy of Lad: A Dog  with a chunk missing from its cover. They have also been exiled from the libraries because of their age and condition. “There is something bittersweet about a library tome so well used that it has fallen to pieces, its tactile decay reflecting a collective act of reading,” noted Hyperallergic, which spotlighted Mansfield’s work.

5. Trump’s Official Portrait, At Last

Timing may not be Donald Trump’s strong suit, we noted: It took the White House a full nine months to release an official portrait of the president. And then it finally came … on Halloween. The new photo by official White House photographer Shealah Craighead depicts a smiling Trump, as opposed to the low-res unsmiling Trump photo that has been used as a placeholder (and on Trump’s Twitter feed) since January. The New York Times  said the new photo looks like a smiley emoji. The Washington Post  called it a “marked improvement.”

At top: from Simon Roberts's Merrie Albion – Landscape Studies of a Small Island


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