Jennifer Jason Leigh, Moby and Ava DuVernay Celebrate Photographer Brigitte Lacombe

Brigitte Lacombe NeueJournal - H 2015
Courtesy of NeueJournal

Brigitte Lacombe NeueJournal - H 2015

Lacombe’s photographs have graced the pages of all the major fashion and lifestyle magazines.

Photographer Brigitte Lacombe has numerous fans, and many of her star subjects are at the top of the list. Jennifer Jason Leigh shared her thoughts about the renowned French artist at an event Thursday night in Hollywood celebrating Lacombe’s recent collaboration with NeueHouse on the first edition of NeueJournal. “The way she works with you is so phenomenal because she sees things in you that you don’t really know about yourself,” said Leigh. “If you look through this journal, she works with so many different types of personalities and yet she gets something true from every single person.”

The sole female lead in the upcoming Quentin Tarantino feature The Hateful Eight, Leigh is known for tackling roles that others might shy away from, and her experience working with the director of Django Unchained and Inglourious Basterds was clearly a high point for her artistically. “It’s a great movie — I am so ecstatic to be a part of it,” she told THR. “I loved making it so much, I can’t even tell you. As an actor, you can have all these dreams about the kinds of movies you want to make and I actually got to make one.” This unusual project, she added, all takes place in one location, though it was shot in two: Telluride, Colo., and L.A.’s Red Studio. “It’s like a play in a certain way — eight hateful people and one pretty nice guy and what happens when you put them all in a room that they can’t get out of,” she explained. “It’s 70 mm so it is going to be phenomenally beautiful. He doesn’t like to do any CGI, so the soundstage was 30 degrees, so that we could have the real experience of the cold. It was just magical. Everything about it was great. Quentin’s belief in everyone — he’s so enthusiastic and it’s infectious.”

Lacombe’s photographs have graced the pages of all the major fashion and lifestyle magazines including GQ, Vanity Fair, Vogue, The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine. She has photographed nearly every major star in the past 30 years and her work on film sets has created an astonishing and insightful archive of motion picture history. The debut issue of NeueJournal is a lush, opulent gallery of portraits of actors such as Robin Wright, Oscar Isaac and Jake Gyllenhaal, as well as artists Ed Ruscha, Mary Heilmann and Frank Stella. A series of six different covers for the publication highlight some of the artist’s most photographed subjects, most notably actress Meryl Streep.

There is an unforced elegance to Lacombe’s images as she eschews elaborate sets or props in favor of a pure human encounter. She spoke with THR about her long relationship with Los Angeles and Hollywood. “I’ve been coming here since I first came to America in 1977,” she said. “And this project is quite special — we did this magazine almost out of the blue. We just met — Michelle and Dominick [editor in chief Michelle Grey and creative director Dominic Teja Sidhu] — and they asked me if I would like to be involved.… Three months later I did 60 portraits and seven covers for them.”

Other industry figures in attendance at the launch of NeueJournal #1 were Ava DuVernay, Moby, Emile Hirsch, Fernando Diez Barroso, Moses Berkson, Alex Berliner, John Carrabino, Alison Chernick, Melodie McDaniel, Bert Rodriguez, Leopold Ross, Eugene Sadovoy and Fuschia Kate Sumner. Musician and activist Moby has been Lacombe's friend and a portrait subject for more than 20 years. He just completed a new album for release in the fall and will be opening a vegan restaurant, Little Pine, in Silver Lake this fall. “I owned a few vegan restaurants in New York; I really loved running restaurants,” he told THR. “Not the idea of making money from them — no one opens an organic vegan restaurant to get rich — but as an expression of values; having a place to eat, a nice place for community.”

NeueHouse, a membership-only social club and workspace founded by veteran tech entrepreneurs Joshua Abram and Alan Murray, will open its Los Angeles location in the historic CBS broadcast building on Sunset Boulevard in September. NeueJournal #1 will be distributed by Hudson News to high-end newsstands in Los Angeles and New York. The work became a passion project for both artist and subjects, said Lacombe, who added that she and the editorial team are already at work on the next edition. “Everyone that got involved — the directors, the writers, the actors — everyone did it because they wanted to be part of it. Nobody tried to promote their film or anything. It was just a great luxury to do something we loved.”