Thursday, September 1st, 2016

The Incomparable Rose Hartman

79 year 0ld Rose Hartman has a reputation as an iconic photographer for her stunning intimate photographs of the famous celebrities and fashion legends that she has been shooting for over the past three decades.  She also has a very definite reputation with practically everyone who knows her as being a throughly unpleasant pushy person for reasons that soon became obvious in this new profile on her.  It was also easy to see why she hardly has any friends at all. Her professional style has always been mainly snatching shots of unguarded moments of glamorous people whenever she can at the many events she attends almost every night whether she has been invited or not. Decidedly not a real paparazzi photographer, but she is totally detested and/or feared by those who are as she aggressively walks all over them or just pushes them out of her way.

Her work is unquestionably stunning, and like her most famous photographs of Bianca Jagger on a white horse, many of her highly recognizable shots were taken in Studio 54 in the Club’s heyday. Yet in the same way that at the end of ‘Bill Cunningham New York’ the profile on the city’s most famous street/style photographer where one is overwhelmed by the sheer universal popularity of the man himself,  now it is both sad and shocking to see how loathed Hartman is. 

Equally sadder is the fact that we never really discover why  she has such unbridled anger, and it seems such a wasted opportunity.  There are plenty of hints  such as when one of her few friends raises the question of how this woman born in a poor Brooklyn neighborhood ends up only speaking with a very studied pseudo English type accent.  Sadly though first time director Otis Mass never follows through with any of them. He has his own problems with his difficult subject who in a shouting match with him insists on telling him how to do his job, before he has to tell her to ‘shut the fuck up’.

Mass covers Hartman launching a couple of new books of her work, but even then at the Private View she cannot resist lecturing her guests to get off their phones and actually look at her work.  But mostly the documentary is about reminiscing with her, and the people that she has some across in her infamous past.  She is one of several eccentrics that lived to what to all accounts was in an era that seems so much more glamorous than that same world now, but she is the only one who somehow has managed to remain so sad and bitter about how life turned out. 


Posted by queerguru  at  10:58

Genres:  documentary

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