Over the course of three decades, London-born, New York-based photographer Robin Broadbent has established a singular pictorial aesthetic infused with an innate understanding of texture, shape, form and abstraction. Renowned for his illustrative depictions of seemingly larger than life objects, Broadbent’s still life photographs transform vernacular subject matter into monumental revelations that deftly command the interplay between light, space, form and shadow to create a startling sense of proportion, scale and dimension.
Initially planning to study medicine, Broadbent approaches his work with the nuance of a poet and an unmatched surgical precision. He embraces a monochromatic, minimalistic approach, challenging our perceptions in a way that recalls the early days of Surrealism, and experiments with the playfulness of his work. Through formal qualities of space, shape, light and line borrowed from the theories of aesthetic minimalism, Broadbent’s evocative photographs demand attention as sensuous entities with charged surfaces.
“From a porterhouse steak to a lipstick or a pair of high heels, Broadbent’s photos are the natural heir to Irving Penn’s.”
Unrivaled in his meticulously executed photographs of jewelry and timepieces, Broadbent has created innovative and memorable campaigns and catalogues for some of the world’s most notable and prestigious international brands such as Cartier, David Yurman, Tiffany & Co., Movado, Rolex, Dior Haute Joaillerie, and Swarovski.
Making even the most diminutive fragrance bottle seem monumental, Broadbent’s hyper-realistic approach continues to attract clients including Prada, Calvin Klein, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle, and DKNY as they introduce new lines and sublines into their luxury product ranges.
“I like to play with the ambiguity of scale and size. There’s nothing in these images to define either size or scale and you don’t know whether you’re looking at something macro/micro or to the other extreme, something planetary.”
Brilliantly portraying the vitality and particularities of a droplet of liquid or a miniature crater of powder, making them epic in scale, Broadbent’s masterful photographs have anchored eye-catching cosmetics campaigns for Pat McGrath Laboratories, Estée Lauder, NARS Cosmetics, MAC Cosmetics, Clinique, Dior, Hourglass Cosmetics, and Marc Jacobs Beauty. Cosmetics also serve as his building blocks – shapes that he can play with in multiples and arrange in abstract forms.
“He is a stand-alone artist, especially in these days of 'me too' advertising when most ads are interchangeable and “me too” fashion photography when anyone who has ever held a camera thinks they are a photographer. They are not, and Robin Broadbent shows us why.”
“My work is a study and exploration of objects. I keep things very simple and reduce down to the minimum, with a balance of interest and tension with the negative and positive spaces. I get excited by shape and form and how they interact or repeat – either in a random or organized way.”
With a fondness for architecture, Broadbent harnesses light, composition, texture and space to transform furniture and everyday household objects into flawless graphic abstractions – imagine a re-configured 21st century version of late Bauhaus minimalism with an unsurpassable degree of intimacy.
“Before I ever knew of him by name, I was in love with his work; it positively fascinated me, it intrigued me and it was somewhat reminiscent of Penn’s still life.”
Revered for his abstract documentation of today’s material culture, Broadbent’s images have a meaning more than the sum of their content. His graphic, reductive simplicity has made him a dream collaborator for tech brands such as Apple and Sonos, and fashion and accessories clients including Berluti, Altuzarra, Bottega Veneta, and Uniqlo, among myriad others.
“The first photographer I collaborated with was Robin Broadbent for the Fall/Winter 2002/2003 campaign. It was not long after I had started at Bottega Veneta, when I was redefining the brand by focusing entirely on the craftsmanship. I had created the Cabat bag, and Robin took a still life image of the leather strips that are woven together to create its shape. The power of the image is in its simplicity, in celebrating the raw materials and the skills of the craftspeople who work with them.”
As meticulous in his approach to film as to still imagery, Broadbent is highly regarded for his ability to capture objects in motion. Highlighting their luminous surfaces and the way light plays and dances across them over time and space, his motion work perfectly complements clients’ advertising campaigns and allows their assets to become even more engaging in digital placements, social media, and television commercials.
“Broadbent takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary, the common becomes uncommon, and the pedestrian almost esoteric.”
Previous publications have included two black and white photographic projects: ‘Marmalade’ (Browns Editions) and ‘Minus Sixteen’ (Browns Editions).
Marking the inaugural exhibition at Wren London, a new photography gallery based in Old Street, East London, Broadbent’s ‘Reduction, Reduction’ was a solo exhibition of works from his recent monograph produced specifically for the exhibition as silver gelatin and digital chromogenic photographic prints. A labyrinth of large-scale abstracted studies, the show further reduced the modern material world to a seductively simple form and solidified the artist’s position as one of the foremost practitioners of still life photography to date.
Previous solo exhibitions have included ‘Robin Broadbent: Black and White Photographs’ at Smith’s Galleries, London and ‘Metal Flesh: Photographs by Robin Broadbent’ at The Studio Gallery, London. He has participated in numerous group shows including ‘Sticks, Stones, Bones’ at R Twentieth Century in New York, and most recently Dossier Magazine’s ‘Secrets Show’ at Space 15 Twenty in LA.
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