Kylie Jenner’s most controversial fashion shoot to date might be getting slammed on the web, but here’s what many don’t get about the work…
Do the Kardashians inspire controversy or what? America's most talked about family never met a headline they didn't grab, and the latest storm - a shoot featuring youngest klan member Kylie posing as a high-fashion mannequin in a wheelchair - is a doozy. While not specifically aimed at glamorising or even emulating the physically disabled, it's been labelled as "bad taste" by the director of Disability for Models of Diversity, Chelsey Jay, among other many other complaints.
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Interview magazine is staunchly defending the photographer responsible, Steven Klein, releasing a statement to ET earlier this week explaining the intention behind the shoot was to reference the work of artist Allen Jones. It reads:
"At Interview, we are proud of our tradition of working with great artists and empowering them to realize their distinct and often bold visions. The Kylie Jenner cover by Steven Klein, which references the British artist Allen Jones, is a part of this tradition, placing Kylie in a variety of positions of power and control and exploring her image as an object of vast media scrutiny. Throughout the Art Issue, we celebrate a variety of women who are both the creators and subjects of their artistic work, and the Kylie feature aims to unpack Kylie's status as both engineer of her image and object of attention. Our intention was to create a powerful set of pictures that get people thinking about image and creative expression, including the set with the wheelchair. But our intention was certainly not to offend anyone."
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Jones is a British pioneer of Pop Art who was highly active in the '60s and rose to prominence for his paintings, prints and sculptures which focused on the female form. Often presenting sculptures of women in a provocative, fetishist or highly sexualised manner - or sometimes as pieces of furniture (see Chair, 1969) - Jones' work sought to challenge conventional notions of art. So powerful were his women-as-furniture creations, that director Stanley Kubrick approached Allen to create the sets for a scene in his 1971 film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange. When Allen declined (it was unpaid work), Kubrick went on to borrow heavily from Allen's work anyway.
In a video published by the Royal Academy of Art, Jones says he was obsessed with recreating the female figure in 3D and describes famously dressing and photographing Kate Moss in a sculpture - an image which has been directly referenced in the Steven Klein/Kylie Jenner shoot.
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Certainly, photographing mannequins and figures dressed in S&M gear isn't exactly out of character for Steven Klein, either. The legendary American fashion photographer has built a reputation for his visceral, hyper-real body of work which straddles pop culture, fashion and art (even make-up guru François Nars is a fan). We'll leave you to ponder the link between Allen and the Interview shoot in the gallery above, which we've compared side by side. Art, fashion or poor taste? You be the judge.
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