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I don’t believe in a photograph until I make a print. It doesn’t exist for me. It’s just like thin air. I’ve always thought of photography as an object. It’s not electronic information, it’s an object.  It takes guts to make a print. You know you have to convince yourself that this is you, that you’ve made this and that you’re putting your name on it, and you also have to believe that maybe somebody else either can appreciate the work you’ve done or can appreciate the fact that this is you. There’s nothing else to hide behind.
Kurt Markus, For Sonia Bogner, New York, 1993

Kurt Markus

For Sonia Bogner, New York, 1993
 

Kurt Markus, For Sonia Bogner, New York, 1993

Kurt Markus

For Sonia Bogner, New York, 1993

Kurt Markus, Kirsten Owen, VOGUE Paris, Los Angeles, California, 1989

Kurt Markus

Kirsten Owen, VOGUE Paris, Los Angeles, California, 1989
 

 

Kurt Markus, Kirsten Owen, VOGUE Paris, Los Angeles, California, 1989

Kurt Markus

Kirsten Owen, VOGUE Paris, Los Angeles, California, 1989

This was for Mirabella magazine.  I’m from Montana and when I was growing up I was fascinated by the South and people from there, even though I could only read about it in literature.  My wife Maria worked round the clock to find local people in Savannah who would be in the photographs and Polly Hamilton did a remarkable job styling a wide variety of body types and ages of our “non-models”.  In fashion, black models were often styled by hair stylists who had no experience with “non-white” hair, so we were also grateful to the hair stylist Edris Nicholls who made our subjects feel comfortable and beautiful. We shot in an old industrial building with natural light.  Everything came together so beautifully - the fashion was right, the subjects were excited to be photographed and hardly needed coaching, and the whole shoot had a certain truth and spirit that I think shows in the pictures.
Kurt Markus, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus, Tia Holland, Mirabella Magazine, Savannah, Georgia, 1994 Gelatin Silver Print 16x20 inches / 41x51 cm Signed by the photographer

Kurt Markus

Tia Holland, Mirabella Magazine, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus, Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus, Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

 

Kurt Markus, Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994 Gelatin Silver Print 11x14 inches / 28x36 cm Signed by the photographer

Kurt Markus

Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

 

Kurt Markus, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Savannah, Georgia, 1994
 

Kurt Markus, Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus, Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994
 

Kurt Markus, Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

 

Kurt Markus, Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus, Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus, Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus, Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

 

Kurt Markus, Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

 

Kurt Markus, Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus, Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

 

Kurt Markus, Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus, Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus, Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994
 

Kurt Markus, Ivy Brannen, Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Ivy Brannen, Mirabella, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

 

Kurt Markus, Savannah, Georgia, 1994

Kurt Markus

Savannah, Georgia, 1994
 

Kurt Markus, Louise, Flair Magazine, Moab, Utah, 2004

Kurt Markus

Louise, Flair Magazine, Moab, Utah, 2004


 

Kurt Markus, Louise, Flair Magazine, Moab, Utah, 2004

Kurt Markus

Louise, Flair Magazine, Moab, Utah, 2004
 

Kurt Markus, Fabienne Terwinghe, Allure, New York, 1990

Kurt Markus

Fabienne Terwinghe, Allure, New York, 1990
 

This project actually became my first published book, “After Barbed Wire”.  I started photographing cowboys for Western Horseman magazine and once I got started, it was hard to stop.  Everything you’ve read about the West and cowboys is, in some strange fashion, true.  It was a lot to learn and I was source of entertainment to the cowboys, at least in the beginning.  I almost got trampled by a bull, which they thought was pretty funny.  I learned how to load film on horseback at a trot or lope, and in driving snow.  I learned that some horses are not “velcro broke” and I had to take care to slowly peel my camera cases and pockets open.  I learned how to be ready, to stay out of the way, and to always thank the cook.    I actually have a picture of me as a little kid dressed as a cowboy with chaps and a fake gun.  If you’re lucky, things just kind of unfold on their own. The adventure has turned to obsession, and with it, subjects for the camera into friends.
Kurt Markus, John Harrison, Elko, Nevada, 1981

Kurt Markus

John Harrison, Elko, Nevada, 1981

Kurt Markus, Oro Ranch, Prescott, Arizona, 1986

Kurt Markus

Oro Ranch, Prescott, Arizona, 1986

Kurt Markus, YP Ranch, Tuscarora, Nevada, 1981

Kurt Markus

YP Ranch, Tuscarora, Nevada, 1981

Kurt Markus, YP Ranch, Tuscarora, Nevada, 1981

Kurt Markus

YP Ranch, Tuscarora, Nevada, 1981

Kurt Markus, Shawn Biggs and Rick Erington, Spanish Ranch, Nevada, 1983

Kurt Markus

Shawn Biggs and Rick Erington, Spanish Ranch, Nevada, 1983

Kurt Markus, Tim McGinnis, LS Ranches, Montello, Nevada, 1982

Kurt Markus

Tim McGinnis, LS Ranches, Montello, Nevada, 1982

Kurt Markus, Brian Thomas, Oro Ranch, Prescott, Arizona, 1986

Kurt Markus

Brian Thomas, Oro Ranch, Prescott, Arizona, 1986
 

Kurt Markus, Larry, Reata, John, and Toni Schutte, Maggie Creek Ranch, Carlin, Nevada, 1984

Kurt Markus

Larry, Reata, John, and Toni Schutte, Maggie Creek Ranch, Carlin, Nevada, 1984

This was sort of my beginning as a fashion photographer.  I was a fan of fashion photography but didn’t think I’d ever get to do it myself.  After my cowboy pictures were published, an art director for Yohji Yamamoto noticed them and asked me to photograph an advertising catalogue for “Y’s for Living” home products.  Originally, they wanted me to photograph the products with cowboys but I was resistant to that and we ended up photographing a lot of the pictures on locals in Mississippi.
Kurt Markus, Archie, Cleveland, Mississippi, 1991

Kurt Markus

Archie, Cleveland, Mississippi, 1991

Kurt Markus, Stanley Stewart, Y's for Living, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1988

Kurt Markus

Stanley Stewart, Y's for Living, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1988

Kurt Markus, Donell Wince, Y's for Living, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1988

Kurt Markus

Donell Wince, Y's for Living, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1988

Kurt Markus, Billy Stafford, Y's for Living, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1988

Kurt Markus

Billy Stafford, Y's for Living, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1988
 

Kurt Markus, Y's for Living, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1988

Kurt Markus

Y's for Living, Vicksburg, Mississipi, 1988

Kurt Markus, Rod Turner, Y's for Living, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1988

Kurt Markus

Rod Turner, Y's for Living, Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1988

I see in a boxer’s body an ideal of maleness, a body both glorified by severe conditioning and humbled by punishment.  On the outside, they are wonderfully conditioned, their bodies truly their instruments, no more muscle than necessary, no less, either.  There is an anatomy of function.  Because they are accustomed to having their body space violated, violently, they are supremely approachable; it is nothing to them that you walk up and adjust a robe or lay a hand on them in order to move them to a specific spot.  I was surprised to find them loose to the touch, almost malleable.  Stripped, vulnerable, they show their greatness.  Am I reading too much in to them?  Is there not something in them that wants to be in all of us?
Kurt Markus, Ariel Hernandez and Juan Cunba Beltran, Havana, Cuba, 1993

Kurt Markus

Ariel Hernandez and Juan Cunba Beltran, Havana, Cuba, 1993
 

Kurt Markus, Miguel Angel Ramirez, Mexico City, Mexico, 1992

Kurt Markus

Miguel Angel Ramirez, Mexico City, Mexico, 1992

 

Kurt Markus, Sammy Mitchell, Gleason's Gym, Brooklyn, New York, 1990

Kurt Markus

Sammy Mitchell, Gleason's Gym, Brooklyn, New York, 1990

 

Kurt Markus, Damian Moraii, Havana, Cuba, 1993

Kurt Markus

Damian Moraii, Havana, Cuba, 1993


 

Kurt Markus, Joaquin Valasquez, Gleason's Gym, Brooklyn, New York, 1990

Kurt Markus

Joaquin Valasquez, Gleason's Gym, Brooklyn, New York, 1990
 

Kurt Markus, Abbe Vega, Gleason's Gym, Brooklyn, New York, 1993

Kurt Markus

Abbe Vega, Gleason's Gym, Brooklyn, New York, 1993
 

Kurt Markus, Waldemar Font Quintera, Havana, Cuba, 1993

Kurt Markus

Waldemar Font Quintera, Havana, Cuba, 1993
 

Kurt Markus, Boxers, Havana, Cuba, 1993

Kurt Markus

Boxers, Havana, Cuba, 1993
 

Kurt Markus, Juan Cunba Beltran, Havana, Cuba, 1993

Kurt Markus

Juan Cunba Beltran, Havana, Cuba, 1993
 

Kurt Markus, VOGUE Hommes, Havana, Cuba, 1993

Kurt Markus

VOGUE Hommes, Havana, Cuba, 1993

 

Travel + Leisure suggested that I visit and photograph Yemen in 1996.  At first, I told them “Can I think about this first?”   My only concept of Yemen from the news in the USA was that there was so much political strife and chaos and destruction.  I was using a 4x5 camera and Polaroid and taking pictures there became kind of event.  Everyone wanted to be in the pictures and once they realized that they could also instantly see the results from the Polaroid – well, it got out of hand.  Lots of yelling.  I even had to hire a bodyguard-type person because it nearly caused a riot.  I ended up going back about 4 times to take photographs.  I gained a lot of material with these trips, and also lost a little weight because I couldn’t drink any beer.  Now when I think of these pictures I realize what a dream it was to have this place as a subject.  The culture was so authentic and visual and I fell in love with photographing a Yemen that was, but is no longer.
Kurt Markus, Mohammed Gasar, Wadi Mayr, Yemen, 1998

Kurt Markus

Mohammed Gasar, Wadi Mayr, Yemen, 1998

Kurt Markus,  Al Monizah, Yemen, 1999

Kurt Markus

Al Monizah, Yemen, 1999

Kurt Markus, Muhammad Abduh Oasim, Sana'a, Yemen, 1996

Kurt Markus

Muhammad Abduh Oasim, Sana'a, Yemen, 1996

Kurt Markus, Al Grady Yahia Al Padahy, Al Taweila, Yemen, 1997

Kurt Markus

Al Grady Yahia Al Padahy, Al Taweila, Yemen, 1997

Kurt Markus, Near Al Taweila, Yemen, 1996

Kurt Markus

Near Al Taweila, Yemen, 1996

Kurt Markus, Hisn Gharamah, Wadi Dammun, Yemen, 1996

Kurt Markus

Hisn Gharamah, Wadi Dammun, Yemen, 1996

Kurt Markus, Tarim, Yemen, 1999

Kurt Markus

Tarim, Yemen, 1999

Kurt Markus, Assafeel, Yemen, 1999

Kurt Markus

Assafeel, Yemen, 1999

 

Kurt Markus, Shibam, Yemen, 1996

Kurt Markus

Shibam, Yemen, 1996
 

Kurt Markus, Burayki Mahbub Sidi Ja'far, Makan Balfas, Hadramant, Yemen, 1996

Kurt Markus

Burayki Mahbub Sidi Ja'far, Makan Balfas, Hadramant, Yemen, 1996

Kurt Markus, Namibia, Africa, 2002

Kurt Markus

Namibia, Africa, 2002

Kurt Markus, Namibia, Africa, 2002

Kurt Markus

Namibia, Africa, 2002

My first trip to Monument Valley was in 2002 for Conde Nast Traveler magazine. What I knew of the Valley was what I understood from John Ford and the films he directed there, particularly John Wayne raging across the landscape in “The Searchers”.  I was there for only a couple of days in 2002, but it was enough.  I couldn’t wait to return and have since been back at least 10 times.  There was a wildness I responded to. With or without clouds there is always something calling for your eye.  The monuments seem to be placed by an unfathomable design, giving this 50-square mile park an intimate sense of scale.  Monuments that tower a thousand feet close up still manage to impose themselves even at a distance.  I’m coaxed to take witness of every condition there is, to see what might be revealed.  It’s worthy of a life’s romance and discovery.  I believe nature is the most difficult of all subjects for the camera.  Most of the time when I’m trying to make a landscape I don’t need to work that fast.  I’ll chase clouds and light, for sure, but what I enjoy most is to let the land and sky leak in to me, maybe guide me to a picture I might not have otherwise have been.  Look with my eyes first, retreat under the dark cloth.  You really get a sense of what the picture will be.  It’s not a snapshot.  Exciting.  Satisfying.
Kurt Markus, Monument Valley, Utah, 2007

Kurt Markus

Monument Valley, Utah, 2007

Kurt Markus, Monument Valley, Utah, 2007

Kurt Markus

Monument Valley, Utah, 2007

Kurt Markus, Cynthia Antonio, German ELLE, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1990

Kurt Markus

Cynthia Antonio, German ELLE, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1990

Kurt Markus, Marla, Australia, 1990

Kurt Markus

Marla, Australia, 1990
 

Kurt Markus, Christy Turlington, San Francisco, California, 1994

Kurt Markus

Christy Turlington, San Francisco, California, 1994
 

Kurt Markus, Esprit, Montana, 1991

Kurt Markus

Esprit, Montana, 1991

Kurt Markus, Lisa Marie, Flathead Valley, Montana, 1991

Kurt Markus

Lisa Marie, Flathead Valley, Montana, 1991
 

Kurt Markus, Cynthia Antonio, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1990

Kurt Markus

Cynthia Antonio, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1990

Kurt Markus, Marla, Austrailia, 1990

Kurt Markus

Marla, Austrailia, 1990 

I was photographing a commercial job in Montana and during the casting process found this great model (who wasn’t a professional model), Kristi Fealko.  I asked her if she’d pose for me again the next day and when she turned up, she had shaved her head.  I was very influenced by Edward Weston’s photograph Pepper #30 when I took these pictures.  I never looked at the picture and thought, “What lens did he use?” There was just something complete about it, and deeply attractive, and beautiful.
Kurt Markus, Kristi Fealko, Foy's Lake, Montana, 2000

Kurt Markus

Kristi Fealko, Foy's Lake, Montana, 2000
 

Kurt Markus, Kristi Fealko, Foy's Lake, Montana, 2000

Kurt Markus

Kristi Fealko, Foy's Lake, Montana, 2000

 

Kurt Markus, Kristi Fealko, Foy's Lake, Montana, 2000

Kurt Markus

Kristi Fealko, Foy's Lake, Montana, 2000
 

Kurt Markus, Kristi Fealko, Foy's Lake, Montana, 2000

Kurt Markus

Kristi Fealko, Foy's Lake, Montana, 2000
 

Kurt Markus, Kristi Fealko, Foy's Lake, Montana, 2000

Kurt Markus

Kristi Fealko, Foy's Lake, Montana, 2000

 

Kurt Markus, Kristi Fealko, Foy's Lake, Montana, 2000

Kurt Markus

Kristi Fealko, Foy's Lake, Montana, 2000

Kurt Markus: A Life in Photography  Installation View

Kurt Markus: A Life in Photography

Installation View

Kurt Markus: A Life in Photography  Installation View

Kurt Markus: A Life in Photography

Installation View

Kurt Markus: A Life in Photography  Installation View

Kurt Markus: A Life in Photography

Installation View

Kurt Markus: A Life in Photography  Installation View

Kurt Markus: A Life in Photography

Installation View

Kurt Markus: A Life in Photography  Installation View

Kurt Markus: A Life in Photography

Installation View

Kurt Markus: A Life in Photography  Installation View

Kurt Markus: A Life in Photography

Installation View

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