January 30, 2023


Unique & Classy

Kurt Markus, Photographer of Cowboys and Designs, Is Lifeless at 75

6 min read

The award-successful photographer Kurt Markus led a lifestyle and job that appeared as huge and various as the Western landscapes he captured on movie.

As a West Place graduate and a former Military Ranger, he felt at residence in the rugged outside, and he could load film although traveling on horseback at a trot. When he was celebrated as a fantastic artist and a chronicler of the American West, he also rose to the pinnacle of his job taking pictures Cindy Crawford and Christy Turlington for top vogue journals, as perfectly as manufacturing gallery-deserving portraits of entertainment luminaries like Meryl Streep, Paul Simon and B.B. King.

Mr. Markus died on June 12 at his dwelling in Santa Fe, N.M. He was 75.

His death was confirmed by his wife, Maria Markus, who claimed he had suffered from Parkinson’s sickness and Lewy entire body dementia.

Mr. Markus, who was from rural Montana, bought his initially digital camera at the PX at Fort Carson, Colo., although he was stationed there in the early 1970s, and taught himself how to use it. He soon came to see a existence behind the lens as a vocation, if not a privilege.

“I’ve generally involved the simply click of the shutter with ‘yes,’ that you like what you see,” Mr. Markus claimed in a 2011 job interview with the internet site aPhotoEditor.com. “I hardly ever thought of pictures as a position.”

Motivated by the haunting landscapes of the West taken by Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, Mr. Markus, who got his start as a expert photographer for Western Horseman journal, was recognised for timeless black-and-white visuals that captured equally the solitude and the grandeur of the vanishing frontier.

“He was happiest when he was in the West, capturing individuals images that he was intently related to,” Peter Fetterman, the operator of Peter Fetterman Gallery in Santa Monica, Calif., a single of the galleries that represented Mr. Markus, mentioned in an job interview. “He lived what he photographed. Other Western illustrations or photos seem voyeuristic in comparison.”

Mr. Markus printed three textbooks of pictures of modern-working day cowboys taken on distant ranches, beginning in 1985 with “After Barbed Wire: Cowboys of Our Time.” During those people shoots, he lived like the buckaroos and cowpunchers (two terms he utilised in e book titles) he properly trained his lens on.

“He was like a survivalist when he was out with the cowboys,” said Maria Markus, who was her husband’s agent and producer. After, she additional, “he slept under a wagon in the snow, freezing chilly in his bedroll, due to the fact there was no room in the bunkhouse.”

The grueling work compensated off.

“If everyone steals the show,” The New Yorker wrote when examining a 2009 exhibition identified as “America the Beautiful” at the Staley-Clever Gallery in Manhattan, which also represented Mr. Markus, “it’s Kurt Markus, whose six photos (a lot of of cowboys) are quietly, unfailingly clever.”

The celebrated photographer Bruce Weber, a buddy given that the 1980s, praised Mr. Markus’s cinematic landscapes of Monument Valley in Utah, a favored topic above the many years.

“His Monument Valley work is just remarkable,” Mr. Weber mentioned in an job interview for a tribute to Mr. Markus composed by the creator Hampton Sides, a pal and neighbor in Santa Fe. “He went there for several years, and whilst he caught a thing diverse with every pay a visit to, the photographs usually experienced the similar good quality of reverence and majesty.”

Despite the entice of open areas, Mr. Markus in no way enable his fascination with Western motifs outline his vocation.

He worked for journals like Harper’s Bazaar and French Vogue, photographed promotion campaigns for Armani and Calvin Klein, and directed tunes video clips for Jewel and Tori Amos, as perfectly as, with his son Ian, “It’s About You,” a 2012 documentary about John Mellencamp’s 2009 summertime tour.

In 1999, Lifetime magazine awarded Mr. Markus the Alfred Eisenstaedt Pictures Award. He also gained multiple Clio Awards for his advertising and marketing operate.

About time, the stars of trend embraced Mr. Markus as their have.

“A legitimate artist,” Cindy Crawford wrote in an Instagram submit soon after his death. “Your work was both stunning and beautifully genuine.”

That is not to say that he allow the label “fashion photographer” define him, either.

“Even while he was a person of the very ideal photographers in the fashion world, to get in touch with him a vogue photographer wouldn’t be pretty accurate,” Ms. Turlington, who traveled with Mr. Markus to considerably-flung locales like Madagascar and Mount Kilimanjaro for shoots, was quoted as saying in Mr. Sides’s tribute.

“He sees the room, the angles, the composition, the alternatives,” she extra. “His thoughts is generally likely. But there is a peaceful curiosity and a feeling of respect that encourages you to be free and lets surprises to take place.”

Mr. Markus also, his spouse mentioned, lobbied to make trend shoots additional inclusive.

In 1994, he traveled to Savannah, Ga., for Mirabella magazine to shoot a prolonged manner spread that he and Ms. Markus solid on regional streets and in malls, making use of Black inhabitants as his models. In 1993, he shot a vogue distribute for The New York Moments Journal named “The Look of the Nineties” that highlighted nonagenarians attired in the most current appears to be from Jean Paul Gaultier and Romeo Gigli.

Kurt Michael Markus was born on April 6, 1947, in Whitefish, Mont., a historic logging and railroad town in the Rocky Mountains. He was the more mature of two youngsters of Raymond Markus, who worked in the family members industry, and Juanita (Johnson) Markus, a homemaker.

From an early age, Mr. Markus cherished the outdoor and was a standout athlete (as a West Stage cadet, he excelled at throwing the javelin). No matter, he realized that his foreseeable future lay past the encompassing cattle ranches.

“I was born a daydreamer,” Mr. Markus wrote in the foreword of his e book “Buckaroo: Photos From the Sagebrush Basin” (1987), “and I know of no slot for a person of people on any ranch.”

Experience was frequently aspect of his work. “Once, on assignment in Yemen, he was kidnapped at gunpoint,” Mr. Sides explained in an job interview. “But Kurt was these types of a charmer, so calm and composed, that he in some way managed to win about his captors. They stole his digital camera gear, but they introduced him, with no a scratch.”

But he also identified solace in extended hrs spent in the darkroom. He was a master printer who most popular his medium-structure Pentax movie digital camera to the “gimmicks and intellectual overlays,” as he when place it, of the electronic age.

“I arrive from an previously era, predigital, and have found no reason to stop the type of images that has challenged and nourished me considering the fact that I started creating photographs, in earnest, 4 a long time ago,” he explained in an essay for an exhibition called “Monument Valley: 2002-2017” at Obscura Gallery in Santa Fe, which also represented him. “In that time, I have grown at ease with film’s limits, even to the stage of embracing them.”

There were being no shortcuts. “For each and every a person print he would have signed,” Mr. Fetterman reported, “he would have ruined 20 or 30 due to the fact they weren’t definitely best.”

Mr. Markus’s marriage to Debra Jean Spencer ended in 1980. He married Maria Donoghue in 1983. In addition to her, he is survived by their sons, Weston and Ian a daughter from his initial marriage, Jade Markus and a sister, Shelley Like.

His body was cremated. Ms. Markus reported she prepared to honor his wishes to have his ashes buried in a distant cemetery in the previous mining city of Tuscarora, in Nevada’s Wonderful Basin, in close proximity to where by he shot some of his early cowboy photographs.

“When I visited him a couple of months in advance of he died,” Mr. Sides mentioned, “I requested him, ‘Why did you choose such a lonesome and desolate and faraway place to be buried?’ He smiled and stated, ‘I did not want people to sense responsible for not coming to see me after I’m gone.’”

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