Session I/Look 2, November 1988
© Fergus Greer
Fujicolor crystal archive print
Leigh Bowery, Lucien Freud’s most ample model and the subject of many of Freuds greatest nude canvases is now also featured in a stunning new group of photographs by Fergus Greer. The unique collaboration between Greer and Bowery resulted in a series of images, which were taken over a number of different sittings from 1988 - 1994. The results are an outstanding record of the chameleon quality of Leigh Bowery, whose ultimate performance was just acting as himself in several different guises and always in the art of excess and constant self-invention. These are a formidable selection of portraits and documentation of a totally individual character, mixing performance art with the cult of the celebrity.
The friendship between Bowery and Greer was an explosive meeting of performer and photographer. Bowery’s constantly changing persona, his diva-like qualities and sensationalism were captured in their essence in these sittings. This self-expression was achieved through costume and performance and playing up to the camera as he would have to an audience. They are quite remarkable for the varied and completely unique nature of their appearance coupled with Bowery’s completely unfettered vision of himself as a piece of art. His physical stature lent itself to a dominating effect over people which artists such as Lucien Freud witnessed and understood. He used Bowery as a nude model for many of his life drawings, which ironically created a totally different persona to the dressed up versions in Greer’s photographs.