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Albert Watson (photographer)

Albert Watson (born 1942) is a Scottish photographer well known for his fashion, celebrity and art photography. He has shot over 100 covers of Vogue around the world and 40 covers of Rolling Stone magazine since the mid-1970s, and has created major advertising campaigns for clients such as Prada, Chanel and Levis. Watson has also taken some well-known photographs, from the portrait of Steve Jobs that appeared on the cover of his biography, a photo of Alfred Hitchcock holding a plucked goose, and a portrait of a nude Kate Moss taken on her 19th birthday.

Albert Watson
Albert Watson Review.jpg
Watson in 2016

Watson's prints of his photography are exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide. Photo District News named Watson one of the 20 most influential photographers of all time, along with Richard Avedon and Irving Penn, among others.[1] Watson has won numerous honors, including a Lucie Award,[2] a Grammy Award, the Hasselblad Masters Award and three ANDY Awards,.[3] He was awarded The Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Medal and Honorary Fellowship (HonFRPS) in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography in 2010.[4] Queen Elizabeth II awarded Watson an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in June 2015 for 'services to photography'.[5]

Watson immigrated in 1970 to the United States, beginning his career in Los Angeles and then moving in 1976 to New York.


Early life and educationEdit

Watson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of a physical education teacher. He grew up in Penicuik, Midlothian, and attended the Rudolf Steiner School in Edinburgh and Lasswade High School.

He studied graphic design at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, and film and television at the Royal College of Art in London. Though blind in one eye since birth, Watson also studied photography as part of his curriculum.

Professional careerEdit

In 1970, he moved to the United States with his wife, Elizabeth, who got a job as an elementary school teacher in Los Angeles, where Watson began shooting photos, mostly as a hobby. Later that year, Watson was introduced to an art director at Max Factor, who offered him his first test session, from which the company purchased two images. Watson’s distinctive style garnered the attention of American and European fashion magazines such as Mademoiselle, GQ and Harper’s Bazaar, and he began commuting between Los Angeles and New York. Albert photographed his first celebrity in 1973, a portrait of Alfred Hitchcock holding a dead goose with a ribbon around its neck, for that year's Harper's Bazaar's Christmas issue. The image has become one of Watson's most famous portraits on a list that now includes hundreds of well-known photographs of movie stars, rock stars, rappers, supermodels, even President Clinton and Queen Elizabeth II.[6] In 1975, Watson won a Grammy Award for the photography on the cover of the Mason Proffit album "Come and Gone," and in 1976, he landed his first job for Vogue. With his move to New York that same year, his career took off.

In addition to photography for magazines, Watson has created the images for hundreds of successful advertising campaigns for major corporations, such as the Gap, Levi’s, Revlon and Chanel, and he has directed more than 100 TV commercials and photographed dozens of posters for major Hollywood movies, such as Kill Bill, Memoirs of a Geisha, and The Da Vinci Code.[citation needed] All the while, Watson has spent much of his time working on personal projects, taking photographs from his travels and interests, from Marrakech to Las Vegas to the Orkney Islands. Much of this work, along with his well-known portraits and fashion photographs, has been shown in museum and gallery shows around the world, and Watson's limited-edition prints have become highly sought after by collectors. In 2007, a large-format Watson print of a Kate Moss photograph taken in 1993 sold at Christie's in London for $108,000, five times the low pre-sale estimate.[7] The art critic Francis Hodgson, in a gallery review of Watson for the Financial Times of London, called the prints "astonishing".[citation needed] Watson is regarded[according to whom?] as a master print-maker and has lectured on the subject at numerous venues, including PhotoPlus International Expo in New York, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and Le Recontres de la Photographie Art Festival in Arles, France.[citation needed]

Watson has had numerous solo museum shows around the world, including at the Museum of Modern Art in Milan, Italy; the KunstHausWien in Vienna, Austria; the City Art Centre in Edinburgh; the FotoMuseum in Antwerp, Belgium; the NRW Forum in Düsseldorf, Germany; Fotografiska, in Stockholm, Sweden; the Deichtorhallen Museum in Hamburg, Germany; and the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow, Russia, among others.[3] Watson was the first Western photographer to be exhibited at the Lianzhou Museum of Photography in Lianzhou, China, with an exhibition in December 2017. Watson’s photographs have also been shown in many group shows at museums, including the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, the International Center of Photography in New York, and the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, Germany.[8] His photographs are included in the permanent collections at the National Portrait Gallery, the Smithsonian, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[8]

Watson has published several books, including Cyclops (1994, Little, Brown),[9] Maroc (1998, Rizzoli),[10], "Albert Watson" (2007, Phaidon).[11] Two books were released in the fall of 2010: "UFO: Unified Fashion Objectives," a look at 40 years of selected Watson fashion photographs, and "Strip Search," a two-volume set of hundreds of photographs Watson took in Las Vegas. There is also Kaos (2017, Taschen). In addition, many catalogs of Watson’s photographs have been published for shows, including "The Vienna Album" (2005).[12]

Watson received a Ph.D from the University of Dundee in 1995[13] and was inducted into the Scottish Fashion Awards Hall of Fame in 2006.[13] His first exhibition in his homeland, Frozen, was held at the City Art Centre of Edinburgh in 2006.[14][15]

Selected exhibitionsEdit

Solo exhibitionsEdit

Some of his solo exhibitions are listed below:[16]



  • Silver Linings, Young Gallery, Brussels, Belgium
  • Classics, Qvale Gallery, Oslo, Norway


  • 14 Days in Benin, Rautenstrauch Joest Museum, Cologne, Germany
  • Visions, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg Germany
  • Vintage, Cyclops Hasted Kraeutler Gallery, New York, United States
  • Visions, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany


  • Albert Watson in Morocco, Flo Peters Gallery, Hamburg, Germany
  • Albert Watson Archive, Izzy Gallery, Toronto, Canada
  • Timeless Beauty, C/O, Berlin, Germany
  • Camera Work: Color Photography, CWC Gallery, Berlin, Germany
  • The expression of Identity, St. Moritz Art Masters, St Moritz, Switzerland
  • Treat Photographs: Sacpe, Hasteds Krautler Gallery, New York, United States
  • Hamilton 'Modern Masters', London, Great Britain
  • Icons of tomorrow, Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Galerie de l'aimance Casblanca, Morocco


  • Exposed, Galerie ACTE 2, Paris, France
  • I observe – Retrospective, KAHMANN Gallery, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Fotografiska Museum, Stockholm, Sweden
  • UFO – Unified Fashion Objectives, A.Galerie, Paris, France
  • Vintage Watson, Hamiltons, London, England


  • Albert Watson Hasted Kraeutler, NYC, United States
  • Retrospektive – Albert Watson, Flo Peters Gallery, Hamburg, Germany
  • UFO – Unified Fashion Objectives, Galería Hartmann, Barcelona, Spain
  • Young Gallery, Brüssel, Belgium


  • The white rabbit, Fondazione FORMA per la Fotografia, Milan, Italy
  • Albert Watson, CAMERA WORK, Berlin, Germany
  • Best Of – Albert Watson, NRW-Forum Kultur und Wirtschaft, Düsseldorf, Germany


  • Contact, Galería Hartmann, Barcelona, Spain
  • Miss Beehayving, Hamiltons, London, England


  • rétrospective, Galerie ACTE 2, Paris, France
  • Albert Watson, Young Gallery, Brüssel, Belgium
  • Epic, Guy Hepner Contemporary, Los Angeles, United States
  • Frozen, Photo Museum Antwerp, Antwerpen, Belgium
  • Haus der Kunst, Wien, Austria
  • A Few Portraits, 401 Projects, New York, United States

Group exhibitionsEdit

Some of his group exhibitions are listed below:[18]


  • Coming into Fashion, Pallais Galliera, Paris, France


  • High Art: A Decade of Collectin, the Smithsonian, Washington D.C. United States
  • Beauty in the 21st Century, Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow, Russia


  • Icons of Tomorrow, Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich, Switzerland[19]
  • Timeless beauty, C/O Berlin, Germany
  • Camera Work: Color Photography, Camera Work Gallery, Berlin, Germany
  • Great photographs: Scape, Hasted kraeutler, NYC, United States
  • Modern Masters Hamiltons, London, Great Britain


  • Traummänner – Starfotografen zeigen ihre Vision vom Ideal, Haus der Photographie / Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany
  • BEAUTY CULTURE, The Annenberg Space for Photography, L.A. United States


  • Fashion – the story of a lifetime, The Empty Quarter Gallery, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • A Positive View – The Third Edition, Somerset House, London, Great Britain
  • Colleziona 2010, Fondazione FORMA per la Fotografia, Milan, Italy


  • Fashion is big, Holden Luntz Gallery, Palm Beach Florida, United States


  • FASHION – 9 decades of fashion photography, CAMERA WORK, Berlin, Germany
  • Traum Frauen – 50 Starfotografen zeigen ihre Vision von Schönheit, Haus der Photographie / Deichtorhallen, Hamburg, Germany
  • Blind Date Photography, Monika Mohr Galerie, Hamburg, Germany


  • Individuals: 20 Portraits from the GAP Collection Herb Ritts, Annie Leibovitz, Albert "Watson" National Portrait Gallery, London, Great Britain


  • Summer in the City 06 – Passion for Fashion!, Galerie Wouter van Leeuwen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Nudes Photography, Monika Mohr Galerie, Hamburg, Germany


  • Property of a Collector, Photographs Do Not Bend Gallery, Dallas, United States


  • Focus : Faces Photography, Monika Mohr Galerie, Hamburg, Germany


  • Rolling Stones, CAMERA WORK, Berlin, Germany

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ PDN page
  2. ^ Lucie Awards site Archived 2009-10-26 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Albert Watson biography and exhibitions, Accessed 2009-06-16.
  4. ^ Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Award
  5. ^ Birthday honours 2015 diplomatic service and overseas list
  6. ^ Photo District News, 24 June 2004, "Albert The Great," by Anthony LaSala
  7. ^ Christies page
  8. ^ a b Albert Watson, Accessed 2009-06-16.
  9. ^ Albert Watson, Jeff Koons and Laurie Kratochvil (1994). Cyclops. Boston, MA: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-8212-2141-8.
  10. ^ Albert Watson (1998). Maroc. New York, NY: Rizzoli. ISBN 0-8478-2161-7.
  11. ^ Albert Watson, James Crump (2007). "Albert Watson," Phaidon, London. ISBN 9780714847559.
  12. ^ Albert Watson, Joram Harel, Ingrid Sischy (2005). The Vienna Album. Munich, Germany: Schirmer/Mosel. ISBN 978-3-8296-0215-0.
  13. ^ a b Gazetteer for Scotland, "Overview of Albert Watson". Accessed 12/11/2007.
  14. ^ Sandra Dick, "A Little-known legend in focus", The Scotsman, 13 February 2006. Accessed 2008-01-10.
  15. ^ Anna Millar, "Scots boltholes in the frame for lens legend" Archived 9 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, The Scotsman, 30 July 2006. Accessed 2008-01-09.
  16. ^ Christophe Guye Galerie, Albert Watson (Biography)
  17. ^ Christophe Guye Galerie Link to the exhibition
  18. ^ Christophe Guye Galerie, Albert Watson (Biography)
  19. ^ Christophe Guye Galerie Link to the exhibition

External linksEdit