by Jaime Lees
Richard Kern is one of the most celebrated photographers of the past 50 years. Along with his peers Annie Leibovitz, Bob Gruen and Mick Rock, Kern shot iconic images that helped to shape the way that we perceive rock stars and celebrity culture.
His work is not all music based, but that's where he got his start, working with and shooting the underground stars of the No Wave art and music scene in the East Village in the early 1980s. Kern's varied and prolific career has involved publishing, filmmaking, writing and shooting in all styles including portraits, high fashion and Playboy.
Kern always stood out for being a little naughtier than his contemporaries and he has a sort-of street credit that comes from years of dabbling in the subversive. When not shooting naked women, the subjects he always seems to photograph are revolutionaries or fringe heroes: people like Crispin Glover, Nick Cave, Vincent Gallo, Marilyn Manson, Asia Argentino and Sonic Youth. And there's a boldness to his work, and not just in subject. His photos are usually bright and provocative, frequently pornographic and always seem to capture the naughty twinkle in the subjects eye.
He visits St. Louis tomorrow for an event at White Flag. He will be signing copies of his latest book, Shot By Kern, at 8 p.m. And the venue will host an outdoor screening of his film work at 9 p.m.