NRW-Forum Düsseldorf

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Rankin - Show Off 15 September 2012 - 13. January 2013

NRW-Forum and Breuninger present Rankin – Show Off

Sponsored by Fashion and Lifestyle retailer Breuninger the Duesseldorf NRW-Forum presents from September 15th on the first comprehensive museum exhibition of Rankin, one of the most influential beauty- and celebrity photographer.

Rankin (full name John Rankin Waddell) is a—probably the—British portrait and fashion photographer. Kate Moss, Heidi Klum, Gisele Bündchen, Claudia Schiffer, Keira Knightley, Vivienne Westwood, Katy Perry, Madonna, Cate Blanchett, Nelly Furtado, David Bowie, and a host of other celebrities—Rankin has shot them all. Now, for the first time ever in Germany, his superabundant body of work is to be shown in a major retrospective exhibition at the NRW-Forum in Düsseldorf.

Synonymous with dynamic and intimate portraiture, Rankin has shot everyone from royalty to refugees. His powerful images are part of contemporary iconography and mix a cross section of his own personal interests with commercial campaigns, from Nike to Women’s Aid. His work is regularly exhibited in galleries around the world, from São Paolo to Moscow, London to LA.

Rankin first came to prominence when he co-founded the style bible Dazed & Confused with Jefferson Hack. One of the most important magazines of the 90s, it established its stylists in the fashion elite, broke some of today’s top designers, and nurtured the budding careers of a generation of creative photographers.

Earning a reputation for creative portraiture and with a talent for capturing the character and spirit of his subjects, Rankin quickly became a formidable force in photography, shooting Britpop bands including Pulp and Blur, and darlings of pop such as Kylie and Madonna. Rankin’s career continued to blossom and covers for German Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Arena, and GQ rapidly followed.

His body of work since the early 90s includes portraits of some of the most influential politicians, popular musicians, revered artists, and celebrated models. However, Rankin also continued to take on projects that featured ordinary people, often questioning established notions of beauty and causing controversy and igniting debates along the way.

Rankin is affiliated with a number of charities and has created hard-hitting campaigns for Women’s Aid and Oxfam, to name but a few. A number of books of Rankin’s work have been published, including Visually Hungry, a retrospective of his work; Celebritation, a collection of his most recognisable portraits; Tuulitastic, Rankin’s images of Tuuli, his model wife; and more recently, Alex Box, in collaboration with the eponymous avant-garde make-up artist.

In addition to his photography career, Rankin co-directs music videos, commercials, and feature films with Chris Cottam. Their debut film, The Lives of Saints, penned by Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas screenwriter Tony Grisoni, enjoyed success on the festival circuit and won the grand jury prize at the Salento International Film Festival. Rankin and Cottam continue to direct commercial projects and have created music videos for Nelly Furtado, The Enemy, and Robyn, among others.

For the first time ever in Germany, the retrospective exhibition at the NRW-Forum in Düsseldorf charts the key images from Rankin’s life as a photographer. At once revealing, shocking, amusing, and seductive, the exhibition is an exhilarating journey through a diverse portfolio. Experience the glamour of his celebrity portraits, the sweat and sensuality of his erotic work, the mischievousness of his provocative self-portraits, the intimacy of his Tuuli series, the graphic and luminous style of his fashion and beauty shots, the strength and dignity of his Oxfam images, and his personal family photographs. Alongside his most influential and iconic images, lesser-known photographs from his more recent personal projects are exhibited. It is through these as much as through his most famous images that we get a more intimate portrait of the artist himself, his motivations, his driving influences, his lifeblood. This retrospective exhibition offers an unprecedented opportunity to review a vast and varied oeuvre, and follow the evolution of a career that has always been in the vanguard of the profession. The exhibition ends with Rankin’s newest works, shot a few days before the opening.

‘Day in, day out, Rankin creates an incredible flood of pictures, clips, films, books, magazines … That he also photographed the Queen for her Golden Jubilee indicates that, nowadays, “wild man” Rankin might possibly be considered part of the Establishment’, explains Werner Lippert of the NRW-Forum, describing his efforts to master this deluge of images.

The exhibition at the NRW-Forum is sponsored by BREUNINGER, the Stuttgart-based fashion retailer.

further information in english

Rankin Video-Interview


NRW-Forum Kultur und Wirtschaft
Ehrenhof 2, 40479 Düsseldorf
Tel.: +49 (0)211 – 89 266 90
Fax: +49 (0)211 – 89 266 82

Opening times & prices

Tuesday to Sunday 11:00 to 20:00
Friday until 24:00

Ground Floor: Adults €5,80(€3,80 concessions*)
Ground & First Floor: Adults €7,80(€5,30 concessions*)
Friday from 18:00 €3,80 (no further concessions)
Friday 20:00 free tour in German