BIOGRAPHY WRITTEN BY GLENN O’BRIEN
Wayne Maser has been one of the world’s premiere photographers for nearly three decades, a master of portraiture, fashion photography and the nude.
Maser dropped out of Med school at the University of Pennsylvania to study Photography at the Philadelphia College of Art under the great photographer Raymond K. Metzker. His first commercial job was a campaign for Guess? Jeans that propelled that brand to the forefront of fashion, introducing models Yasmine LeBon, Carla Bruni and Anna Nicole Smith, and creating an enduring mood and a mode. Entire sections of black and white photos rivaled the impact of the editorial pages in virtually every fashion magazine, with a lively and sexy bravado. Finally fashion was wild and fun again. Even as a beginner Maser was compared to Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton and he spawned a host of imitators.
Fashion brands and fashion editors alike sought out his gutsy vision and soon he became a protégé of Alexander Liberman, the creative director of Conde Nast, shooting exclusively for American Vogue.
In 1990, Maser moved from New York to Los Angeles, where he produced groundbreaking celebrity portraiture for Interview, Vanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar. He signed with director Ridley Scott’s production company, RSA-USA, directing commercials and music videos for such performers such Mariah Carey and Mary J. Blige.
In 1996, he returned to New York, where he created ad campaigns for Calvin Klein and DKNY among others and he shot continued covers and major editorial projects for Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair, GQ, and Esquire. He was especially in demand for his iconic portraits of legends. Form a mental picture of Johnny Depp, Rob Lowe, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Clint Eastwood, Brigitte Nielsen, John Mellencamp, Whitney Houston, Angelina Jolie, Elizabeth Taylor, or Mikael Baryshnikov and there’s a good change you’re forming a mental Maser photo.
In the 21 Century Maser has spent his time shuttling between Italy and New York, working for Vanity Fair, Paris Match, A Magazine, L’Uomo Vogue, and the British, French, Australian and Russian editions of Vogue, among others, and making work intended as art not commerce.
Always a forward looking nomad, and sometimes reckless, Maser paid so little attention to his own legacy that he lost many of his negatives and digital files. Rather than mourn this loss, which some might consider tragic, Maser has created a new body of work celebrating the ephemeral and transitory nature of images. The photos are printed large on butcher’s paper, a rough and disposable material that gives them a classical yet somehow taboo feel. They are elusive, incomplete, teasing representations of their subjects, evocative of process and mystery. They are fragments of time, with the flawed patina of mature memory, smoky mirrors of a past that can only be partially and tantalizingly reconstructed.
The artist currently lives and works in Milan.