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County Cork, Ireland, 1950 ? London, 2006
Bob Carlos Clarke has a reputation as being a photographer of striking versatility as well as one of the world's finest photographic printmakers. After moving to England in 1964, he worked in journalism and advertising before electing in 1970 to study design; his interest in photography bloomed during his first year of studies and by 1975 he had completed an MA in photography at the Royal College of Art.
Within a few years Carlos Clarke was established as a first-call fashion, portrait and commercial photographer - he has since done campaigns for Smirnoff and Volkswagen, among numerous others - and as an auteur image-maker with a line in mysterious, imaginative and erotic monochrome photographs.
Carlos Clarke is perhaps most celebrated for the series of books he has produced, the majority of which transport the brilliant technique of his advertising work into a world of voyeurism, drama and sensuality. After making an illustrated version of Anais Nin's erotic classic Delta of Venus and the well-received solo book Obsession in the early 80s, Carlos Clarke landed a worldwide hit in 1995 with The Dark Summer, a book whose unconventionally sensual imagery and flawless black and white photography made it a word-of- mouth bestseller.
In 1987, Carlos Clarke shot White Heat in the frenetic kitchens of the then up-and-coming chef Marco Pierre White - capturing, in Carlos Clarke's words, 'the passion and violence that was never seen in the effete world of . jovial cooks'. His most recent book, Insatiable, ventures into Carlos Clarke's personal obsessions and, in drawing together many of the strands of his photographic practice, emerges as a deft and unsettling mixture of female nudes, photojournalism and still-life.
Carlos Clarke's monochrome still-lifes rank as some of his most beautiful and subversive works. While reveling in encrustations of detail, his close-ups of weathered and heavily patinated serving-forks are also strangely fetishistic, particularly when considered in the context of Carlos Clarke's more overtly sexual imagery; their elongated tines come to resemble a woman's long legs. He has described sensual imagery in general as 'a delicate conspiracy between the imagination and the evidence'.
In the case of such images as these, the photographer's restraint certainly inspires the imagination and is a strong part of the work's success. In other cases the cutlery forms itself into depictions of unlikely congress: presented as an image of monochrome quietude, a pair of interlocking forks appear suffused with gently libidinous metaphor. And when he creates images such as Spoon and Fork, in which a spoon wraps itself, corkscrew-like, around a fork and the fork's curved tines lay themselves gently into the spoon's concavity, Carlos Clarke touchingly reveals the sensual potential in the everyday.
Carlos Clarke, Bob, Insatiable, scheduled for publication in 2002
Carlos Clarke, Bob, Shooting Sex, scheduled for publication in 2001
Carlos Clarke, Bob, White Heat, Octopus, UK, 1990
Carlos Clarke, Bob, The Dark Summer, Quartet, UK, 1985
Carlos Clarke, Bob, Obsession, Quartet, UK, 1981
Carlos Clarke, Bob, The Illustrated Delta of Venus - with short stories by Anais Nin, published by WH Allen, 1980
"Best tip in affordable contemporary erotic photography is Irish-born Bob Carlos Clarke. Both Maclean and Juliet Hacking, head of Christie's photography department, tip him as the new Helmut Newton (the German-Australian photographer... - The Observer, Sunday May 7, 2006.
The estate is currently represented by PicassoMio.com / PicassoMio Galleries.