There are two primary facets to Lady Gaga's image: sex and art. She, like every pop star
since Elvis Presley, has utilized sex appeal to project an image and garner attention. She also plays up the image of the artist, the avant-gardist. (Whether or not she's beautiful or creative is besides the point entirely.)
Terry Richardson works primarily in one facet: sex. If there's any art to Terry it comes only through sex appeal, whether it be sexy photographs or provocative fashion. His celebrity portraits, often taken with cheap consumer instant cameras, are simple and to the point (Augusto De Luca he is not) and, when it comes down to it, he's a largely exploitative photographer. He brings a celebrity's sex appeal to an extreme. He exploits it, captures it, glamorizes it, exaggerates it, whatever. He works within it, but his subject has to meet him half way, they have to already exploit sexuality themselves before he can paint its details and intricacies. ("I view what I do as a real collaboration between myself and the people in front of the camera.") If anything earns sharp focus in a Richardson portraiture it's not the eyes and face, it's the flesh. His photos aren't pornographic though (okay, maybe some of them
are, especially his older work
), but that's because sex appeal hardly ever is explicitly pornographic (the Andersons, Hiltons, and Kardashians notwithstanding). Celebrity sex appeal is a tease above all else and Terry goes a bit further with the tease but never beyond. All he's doing is capturing its essence.
Gaga supplements art with sex, Richardson supplements sex with art, Gaga has an elaborate grandiose style, Richardson has an amateur punk style. What the two share is a sense of raw unrestraint and candor. Lady Gaga x Terry Richardson
is very much similar to Richardson's collaborations with people like Lindsay Lohan, Sky Ferreira, or Miley Cyrus. Richardson brings out the sexuality in Lady Gaga, but this collection also proves an intimate look at the pop star; with environmental behind-the-scenes portraits it is of course biographical (hundreds of pictures of a person can't be expected to not be). This makes the book ideal for Lady Gaga fans. For Terry Richardson fans it's what you've likely come to expect from him: style through subject, not form.
The comparisons to Madonna's [b:Sex|302236|Sex|Madonna|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1250752862s/302236.jpg|293297]
are inevitable. Sex
though still remains more potent, creative, and, frankly, interesting. (It really is like comparing Madonna's Justify My Love
to the Terry Richardson directed Wrecking Ball
. They both adopt sex as the subject, but they each approach it differently.) Lady Gaga x Terry Richardson
remains really only worthwhile for fans of the two and proves to be of little value otherwise. Those who will like this probably know who they are, everyone else (photography lovers included, fashion enthusiasts possibly excluded) would most likely do good to avoid.