Living Dolls

Bob Carlos Clarke’s Exhibition in London Displays Some of His Most Iconic Work

The late Bob Carlos Clarke was one of the most controversial photographers of his generation, with a reputation for brilliant, sexually-infused shots. A prolific but troubled provocateur, the Irish-born image-maker was known for his pictures of rock stars and erotic, sometimes shocking, images of temptress women.

Carlos Clarke worked across many photography styles, winning numerous awards for his high-profile advertising campaigns and international recognition for his photojournalism and portraits of celebrities. Often referred to as the British Helmut Newton, he shot Dita von Teese in a corset and stilettos, holding knives; Rachel Weisz in an oil-slick rubber catsuit; and a naked and heavily pregnant Yasmin Le Bon. But the most extraordinary images were for Marco Pierre White’s cookbook White Heat, looking like a rock star in his white-hot kitchens. Carlos Clarke’s fetishistic, often rubber-clad women of the Eighties and Nineties are already iconic – he was recently tipped as the best tip in affordable contemporary erotic photography – and today some of his work hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.

The tragedy in the tale is that, despite his apparent success and reputation, Carlos Clarke suffered from severe clinical depression, which eventually cost him his life – he threw himself in front of a train in 2012. Following his untimely death, his widow, Lindsay Carlos Clarke, took over his estate and founded The Black Cat Gallery. Together with Ghislain Pascal, who co-founded the gallery, Lindsay has co-curated ‘Living Dolls’, which marks the first solo exhibition of his work since ‘Love Dolls Never Die’.

Living Dolls at The Black Cat Gallery, Chelsea, runs from 10 May – 21 June 2014

We spoke to Carlos Clarke’s former agent, Ghislain Pascal, about the exhibition.

The Plus: Who selected the images and how many of them are being exhibited?
Ghislain Pascal:
The images were selected by myself and Bob’s widow Lindsey Carlos Clarke. We both have the best knowledge of Bob’s images: Lindsey as his wife and myself as his former agent. There are 60 images in the show – so it’s the largest show we have put on since Bob’s death in 2006. The images include not only some of the images from his ‘Love-Dolls Never Die’ show in 2004, but some classic images, and one off prints.

TP: What makes this exhibition special?
What makes this exhibition so special is the fact that there is something for everyone to buy. The prices start at £350 and go up to £12,900. All the photographs are for sale. Some are editioned, some are signed, and some are unique one off prints.
The exhibition is very much focused on the photographs. There will not be any props. We will of course sell his books ‘Shooting Sex’, DVD, and postcards.

TP: What are your thoughts on nudity in photography?
I have no thoughts. Sex sells!