Movie star Richard Gere is used to being a subject for photographers. But it turns out the actor also has a keen appreciation for those behind the lens, as evidenced by a stellar photography collection coming to Christie’s later this month.
The more than 150 images Gere has amassed over the years amount to a capsule history of the medium in the 19th and 20th centuries. The trove includes works by 19th-century innovators like Gustave Le Gray and Carleton Watkins, as well as major figures in the modern history of the medium including Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, Richard Avedon, Tina Modotti, Diane Arbus, and Sally Mann.
Photographer Herb Ritts shot the actor in a smoldering 1977 portrait that arguably helped launch both men’s careers. A personal friendship with Ritts would help encourage Gere to take the medium, and the artists behind the lens, seriously. A number of the works in his collection were acquired directly from the photographers themselves.
Many of the photographs Gere has collected feature dramatic lighting and striking subjects, as in Richard Avedon’s portrait of Bob Dylan (Gere took on the role of Billy the Kid in the 2007 film I’m Not There, which was based on the music of Dylan). “Being an actor, my basic tool is emotions,” Gere said in a press release. “So I think most of the pictures that I respond to have the suggestion of a story or a flicker of the mystery.”
In an interview about the sale with the Hollywood Reporter, Gere was reluctant to classify himself as an art collector, saying instead, “I just started buying things that I liked.”
The actor explained that he was drawn to the medium at an early age and was initially more interested in the process of developing film and printing images. “I’ve tried many different processes of my own photographs, from salt to platinum to silver and almost anything in between,” Gere told THR. He added that no matter the process of printing, “It’s just suggestions and the mind creates images and stories. The brain creates the images.”
The collection, which carries a low estimate of $2 million, will be on view at view at Christie’s Los Angeles gallery in Beverly Hills from March 23–26. The online sale runs from March 23–April 7, 2022.
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