c1980 by Martin Fishman
Broadway Gallery until 30th June; http://quentincrisp.com/
The exhibition Quentin Crisp in Black & White is the hard work of many who loved both Crisp and Fishman. It’s a commemorative display to both men, demonstrating the details of the life of one through the clear photographic talent of the other. “Marty’s” approach to the documentation of Crisp is intriguingly tender, taking care to extract little details of his life visually, from portraits to the abstract image of clasped hands or a reflection in the mirror. These are intimate snapshots, Crisp getting dressed, Crisp applying makeup, and hung together in this exhibition they provide a visual patchwork of his later days in New York. The photo chosen for the show’s postcard is iconic of course, picturing Crisp next to a faux Statue of Liberty, though it fails to show the intimacy that so many of these photographs possess, something that gives this show its originality. However, it does show Crisp at his best, standing tall and proud, hat cocked, hand on hip, chest swelling and that fine nose turned to the wind. The iconic silk scarf, one that pleasingly changes throughout Marty’s photographs, flourishes from the elaborate ‘diamond’ encrusted brooch under his throat. Meanwhile Crisp’s look is defiant, one assuming equal status to the icon he stands next to. Crisp’s face, though no one is doubting Marty’s photographic ability, lends itself to black and white photography. His jaunty angular features, the bird-like face, the texture of skin well worn-in, are all beautifully articulated through the sensuous tones and quality of black and white film. We are left feeling that we too have seen this face up close.