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NEW YORK — Peter Arnell revealed his personal side Tuesday night.
In an exhibition at the Milk Gallery, Arnell showed a 30-year retrospective of his photographic work, chosen by Frank Gehry. Arnell took his early photographs with a Ricoh Instamatic camera, but these days he shoots exclusively with his iPhone. The photo exhibition will be on display until April 1.
The photographs range from the original advertising campaign images for Donna Karan, as well as Rockport and Banana Republic (bath & body), to photographs of landmarks such as the Pantheon in Rome, the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, the Ginza in Tokyo, the Staten Island Ferry, the Manhattan Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge and Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan. Snapshots of skylines, Olympic athletes, Carla Bruni backstage, Andy Warhol, and street life and street culture in such cities as New York, Tokyo, Beijing and Rio de Janeiro — as well as numerous hands, feet and legs — round out the exhibition.
Arnell said he always likes to shoot exclusively in black and white “because the color disturbs it, and removes shape and form; you lose some of the geometry.” He also likes to shoot blurred images. His favorite time to shoot is at night, and his photos capture the vitality of city life: crowded sidewalks, flashing lights and busy streets. The blurry pictures are intended to make people feel like they’re part of the action, and there’s life in the photos.
This is Arnell’s first photo exhibition. He has left the ad world to focus on his photography as well as product design development, having established a new firm called ICI.
“Everybody’s been trying to get Peter to do a show. He’s such a legend,” said Mazdack Rassi, cofounder and creative director of Milk Studios. He said that Arnell told him, “‘maybe I can get one of my friends to curate it,’ and he gets Frank Gehry.” Rassi said that the last 30 years were a “historical period in American fashion, and Gehry put a mirror in front to show this is what Peter’s done.”