Self-Taught Photog Markus Klinko Doesn’t Care if You Think His Work Is Too Commercial
MARKUS KLINKO ONCE described himself as “the James Bond of fashion photography,” and there’s a bit of truth in that quote. Born in Switzerland of French, Italian, Jewish, and Hungarian ancestry, and blessed with a sinewy physique and charming demeanor, this international man behind the lens has landed in Houston for ICONS KLINKO, an eye-popping exhibit of phantasmagoric photos of such superstars as David Bowie, Britney Spears, and Mariah Carey, opening this weekend at Nicole Longnecker Gallery.
These days, Klinko describes himself as a portrait artist, and aspires to make a historical impact on the art world. “Klinko’s photographs have a wonderful iridescent quality that is both painterly and narrative,” says Longnecker. “His images capture not only the form of the subject, but their own creative essence.”
In his earlier years, Klinko was a concert classical harpist, practicing 10 hours daily to keep up his technique. “I reached my dream,” says Klinko, “but I was also mentally very tired.” In 1994, at age 33, a thumb injury compelled him to retire from music and pursue a new chapter in life as a self-taught photographer.
Klinko's 'Dangerously In Love' cover photo
Klinko's 'Britney, the Forest'
Before then, Klinko had never picked up a camera, and yet he soon found himself shooting some of the most beautiful people on the planet, including a then-21-year-old singer named Beyoncé, who needed a cover shot for her debut album, Dangerously In Love. During that shoot, legend has it Klinko suggested Beyoncé wear some denim to contrast the glimmering, spiderweb-like crystal top she had draped over her physique. Klinko loaned Queen Bey his jeans, and gamely finished the shoot in his skivvies. “It’s a totally true story,” says Klinko, who stands 6-foot-4, “and proof that I have Beyoncé’s butt!”
Klinko has since exhibited in dozens of galleries worldwide and is delighted to have representation in Houston. He says visitors can expect some surprises in ICONS KLINKO, including images from a new series called The Angel Factory that pairs breathtaking models with high-tech lasers and syringes used in plastic surgery. Meanwhile, Klinko takes great satisfaction in seeing his images for brand campaigns appear simultaneously in the pages of glossy magazines and on the walls of white cube galleries.
“The question ‘Is it art or is it commerce?’ becomes irrelevant at that point,” says Klinko. “It’s just everywhere, and that’s what it is.”