Sandro Miller pays homage to the masters of photography with the help of John Malkovich

A new exhibition at the Fondazione Stelline gathers more than 60 photographs, a tribute to the history of modern photography.

Diane Arbus / Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey (1967), 2014, © Sandro Miller/ Courtesy Gallery FIFTY ONE. Sandro Miller

“Each of us,” says photographer Sandro Miller, “has a hero or a person we admire. We praise them, worship them, and put them on a pedestal. It can be a religious figure, a Hollywood actor, a sports star like Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan. For me, the great masters of photography are like sports stars. I admire Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Annie Leibovitz, and every single photographer represented in my ‘Homage to the Masters.’ I have recreated the photographs of the great masters as a sign of respect, love, and admiration.”

A new exhibition at the Fondazione Stelline gathers more than 60 photographs that Mr. Miller started to create eleven years ago after being diagnosed with cancer.

Sandro Miller, Pierre et Gilles / Jean Paul Gaultier, (1990), 2014, 111,76×87,63cm © Sandro Miller/ Courtesy Gallery FIFTY ONE.

In this series of works, Miller pays tribute to some incredibly talented photographers, such as Albert Watson, Annie Leibovitz, Bill Brandt, Diane Arbus, Herb Ritts, Irving Penn, Pierre et Gilles, Richard Avedon, and Robert Mapplethorpe, to name a few. An exploration of the modern history of photography through the eyes of Sandro Miller.

“These shots over my years of being a photographer have inspired me, have moved me, have taught me…” says Mr. Miller. In each photo, the only subject is Miller’s close friend: John Malkovich. The actor transformed himself into Marilyn Monroe, Salvador Dalí, Mick Jagger, Muhammad Ali, Meryl Streep, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway, and many other legendary people.

Sandro Miller, Christopher Makos / Lady Warhol, Standing (1981), 2017, 55,8 x 43,1 cm © Sandro Miller/ Courtesy Gallery FIFTY ONE.

The collaboration between Mr. Miller and Mr. Malkovich dates back to the 1990s when the two met in Chicago at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. “He became my canvas, my muse,” said the artist.

“I think of myself more like a blank page,” says John Malkovich in the short documentary for the exhibition. “I think that’s probably why Sandro likes to shoot with me. Because I don’t much care man or woman, old or young, whatever. I really don’t mind much.”

Sandro Miller, Robert Mapplethorpe / Ken Moody & Robert Sherman (1984), 2017, 55,8 x 43,1 cm © Sandro Miller/ Courtesy Gallery FIFTY ONE.

The show inaugurated a new series of photography initiatives that the Fondazione Stelline will produce in collaboration with the Swiss publisher Skira in 2022.

The exhibition continues at Expowall, Miller’s Italian gallery, with his latest work “Crowns.” A series of portraits of black women with beautiful hairstyles, through which they affirm their freedom to choose how to express their creativity, heritage, and identity.

Gianmaria Biancuzzi is Executive Editor of Milano Art Guide. He writes a column on photography for Exibart and previously he reported for Zero.eu from 2016 to 2020. He is the creator and co-curator of the best-selling “The Colouring Book” published by 24OreCultura in 2020.