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Lenny Kravitz unveiled his first project as Dom Perignon’s creative director — and his first exhibition since his debut photography book, Flash, in 2015 — at the Skylight Modern space in New York City on Friday.
Before an evening VIP showing of “Assemblage,” Kravitz walked a small group of journalists through the exhibition, explaining that the photographs were inspired by celebrity photographer Ron Galella; specifically his famous shots at New York’s iconic 1970s nightclub, Studio 54.
“What I love about those shots is that they’re in a dark room, and you had all of these very interesting people gathering from street culture — socialites, artists, actors, actresses, musicians — and he captured everything with his camera and his flash,” Kravitz said.
He ended up doing the same, though Kravitz didn’t have to venture out to a nightclub. The photos in “Assemblage” depict Kravitz’s daughter, Zoe Kravitz, along with a number of his friends, like Susan Sarandon, all at a dinner party the musician hosted this year at his Los Angeles home. Kravitz designed the house, adding a nightclub in the basement. “I just wanted to have what this guy would have had in the club, and get that style of photographs,” Kravitz said.
The group of his subjects slowly came together, but not until after he asked Zoe to participate. “She’s very particular about what she does, but she was into the idea,” Kravitz said, adding that the project was the first time the two worked together. Zoe was able to bring aboard Alexander Wang, who Kravitz described as her childhood friend.
Harvey Keitel, choreographer Benjamin Millepied, soccer player Hidetoshi Nakata and model Abbey Lee Kershaw also joined the group. Kravitz said everyone seemed to bring something different to the table, making for solid on-camera chemistry.
Prior to Friday’s exhibition opening, Kravitz just released his 11th studio album, Raise Vibration, on Sept. 7. He said music is still his “day job,” but other art forms, like photography, allow him to mix things up.
“I would say that music, design and photography all have the same place in my heart. They all feed each other,” Kravitz noted. “It’s nice to have different mediums to use because when you’ve exhausted one for the moment, you can go to the next one, and when you’ve exhausted that, you go to the next one and eventually work your way back. Therefore you’re just always being creative.”
Though Kravitz said he didn’t start seriously experimenting with photography until 2012, he’s loved it ever since he was a child because his father was a journalist for NBC News. “He worked mostly behind the scenes. He was a producer, he was an assignment editor, he went to Vietnam and covered the war — but he had a Leica camera that was around the apartment when I was 5 or 6 years old,” Kravitz said. “I used to just hold it. Obviously, I didn’t know what to do with it, but I was fascinated by the contraption itself. And later on in life, my father gave me the camera.”
As he grew as a musician, Kravitz said, he became more familiar with the process of things like photoshoots. “I was more interested in what was happening behind the camera,” he said. “I would get to know these photographers and then they would invite me into their dark rooms, and I would start to see how things were done.”
Soon, Flash was born.
Kravitz said he was inspired to recently return to photography because of his relationship with Dom Perignon and the brand’s cellar master, Richard Geoffroy, who told Kravitz that watching one of his concerts actually inspired a part of his champagne-making process. “We had a very intellectual conversation about the creative process,” Kravitz said. Over the years, the two discussed the idea of collaborating, since they had a “brotherhood and understanding of each other’s art form.”
The result was “Assemblage,” which will be free and open to the public at the Chelsea space from Sept. 29 to Oct. 6.
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