Auction | Studio 54 Exposed

Margaret Trudeau, 1980s.
Margaret Trudeau
exposed at Studio 54

Cibachrome print
Estimate $1000 > 2000



Studio 54: Richard Manning
Photos & Modern Art

Palm Beach Modern Auctions
West Palm Beach
Florida | USA

Exhibition until 4 February 2017
Sale 4 February 2017



Karl Lagerfeld,
Paloma Picasso and
guests at Studio 54

Gelatin silver print
Estimate $400 > 800



Posterity demands that that not just every new political or social movement that emerges, but every new genre in art, music and fashion – and even their associated venue – must have its photographer. Sometimes an established professional is commissioned for the job, but often someone just happens to be around to take pictures and, in the process, makes a name for him- or herself off the back of them.

The Nazis chose Leni Riefenstahl to film and photograph their carefully-staged, propagandist 1938 Summer Olympic Games in the specially-built Olympiastadion Berlin, while Jacques Lowe was made John F Kennedy’s presidential campaign photographer in 1960, remaining on hand afterwards to document what went on behind the scenes at The White House during one of the most captivating periods of 20th-century US history. The career of Roxanne Lowit, who began by taking backstage images of Yves Saint Laurent’s runway presentations in 1978 and continued through to the end of his life, became intertwined with the designer’s. From 1978 to 1987, photographer Derek Ridgers hung out in hedonistic London clubs like Le Beat Route, the Blitz, and Taboo, capturing the essence of the scene around the New Romantic movement’s prime movers Boy George, Steve Strange and the band, Spandau Ballet.

Andy Warhol,
Jerry Hall and guests
during the 1980s at Studio 54

Gelatin silver print
Estimate $400 > 800



Debbie Harry
at Studio 54

Gelatin silver print
Estimate $400 > 800



There’s very little information available on the internet about the photographer Richard P Manning (1941 > 2013, aka RPM) who documented the legendary and notorious New York nightclub, Studio 54 – described on Youtube as ‘Sodom and Gomorrah with a disco beat’, a substantial cache of whose work is being sold at auction in Palm Beach this weekend.

Founded 40 years ago in 1977 by Steve Rubell and Ian Schraeger, the club was at its peak from 1977 to 1980. According to Wikipedia, frequent regulars included celebrities such as Andy Warhol, Liza Minnelli, Bianca Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor, Halston, Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, Debbie Harry, Michael Jackson, Calvin Klein, Elton John, Tina Turner, Divine, Margaret Trudeau, Faye Dunaway, Truman Capote, Margaux Hemingway, Freddie Mercury, Tommy Hilfiger, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Diana Ross, Lou Reed, Al Pacino, Cher, David Bowie, Woody Allen, Iman, Salvador Dalí, Robin Williams, Donald Trump, Diana Vreeland, John Travolta, Lauren Hutton, Karl Lagerfeld, Diane von Fürstenberg, Amanda Lear, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Brooke Shields and Ilie Năstase, among many others. Performers at Studio 54 during its first few years of operation included Grace Jones, Donna Summer, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Gloria Gaynor, Sylvester and Village People. Manning photographed all of them along with many nameless others, whose behaviour within the confines of the club was often far more outrageous.

Carol Bouquet
n Peter Bear
d, 1979.
Carol Bouquet and
Peter Beard

at Studio 54
Cibachrome print
Estimate $400 > 800



Grace Jones
at Studio 54

Gelatin silver print
Estimate $400 > 800



His candid images were made possible because his subjects specifically extended invitations to him in order to have a record of their wilder revels. Perhaps most famously, he captured Margaret Trudeau, socialite wife of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, during her separation from her husband, flashing her naked vagina in the club.

Alongside the straight but punchy black and white standard prints he made, Manning also became known for his creative, angular cropping and the artistic effects he produced (with a nod to Any Warhol) by overlaying areas of vibrant colour on some of his images.

A total of 107 Manning prints from the personal collection of Bill & Carol Clements, are included in Palm Beach Modern Auction’s Studio 54: Richard Manning Photos & Modern Art sale.

All images by Richard P Manning, courtesy Palm Beach Modern Auctions, © William Clements / Richard Manning


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