“Robert’s work is part of a long and fascinating history of social documentary, responding to the public fascination with images of fame and celebrity,” said Curator of Glitterati, Glynis Jones.
“Robert’s images come from the easy interaction and trust between photographer and subject, generating images that exude warmth and wit. For this exhibition Robert has added his stories to the photographs giving insight to his profession.”
Over four decades, Robert Rosen attended glittering parties, concerts, fashion events and nightclubs across Australia, London and Europe, capturing the rich, famous and fabulous for the fashion and social pages of an array of newspapers and magazines.
Defying the perceived image of the pushy, intrusive paparazzi, his polite and discrete approach earned him the respect and trust of his subjects. Carrying two or three cameras around his neck, with a glass of champagne in hand, he became a fixture in the social scene and captured intimate portraits that conveyed the mood and energy of the times.
“Glitterati is the story of my life’s work through the lens and a journey through time,” said Rosen. The photo of Linda and Paul above is one of my favourites taken during my time in London.”
“In 1982, I crashed a Music Awards Party at the famous Abbey Road Studios. Paparazzi were outside, it was snowing, and they were there freezing with their zoom lenses. My snappy was in my pocket, the security guy saw me and because I always liked to dress well, he must have mistaken me for a pop star.”
“He said, ‘Hurry up inside, the awards are starting’ and whisked me through the doors. Next thing I know, I am inside standing next to Paul and Linda McCartney. We began a conversation and I asked to take a shot, on the third click they kissed. That photo went worldwide, and I sent them a print to say thank you.”
“Six months later I bumped into them again but didn’t assume they would remember me. However, Linda called out to me, ‘Darling, are you ignoring us? Give me a hug.’
“It meant so much to me, maybe more than anything, that she loved that photograph. It’s the subjects in the photos that make the picture. I just press the button!”
Robert Rosen: Glitterati will present over 300 photographs, including images from Rosen’s early career in London and Paris capturing the fashion shows of iconic designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Claude Montana and Zandra Rhodes.
In Australia Rosen brought a new perspective to the fashion pages with his backstage photos at Australian Fashion Week and documented celebrities, politicians and entertainers at parties, openings, launches and events from the exclusive Cointreau Ball to the ARIA Awards.
Glitterati will also include over 50 never-before-seen polaroids from Rosen’s personal archive, dating from 1980-2000 with images of icons including Yoko Ono, David Bowie and Bette Midler.
Rosen collaborated with those at the centre of creative culture during iconic moments and documented an eclectic mix of international and Australian celebrities. These include Paul McCartney, Bryan Ferry CBE, Elle McPherson, Peter Morrissey, Divine, Paul Capsis, Nina Simone, Boy George, Yves Saint Laurent, Andy Warhol, Grace Jones, Kylie Minogue, Nicole Kidman, Luciano Pavarotti, Lady Sonia McMahon, Elton John and Michael Hutchence.
“In 2014 Robert Rosen very generously gifted a large portion of his archive to the Powerhouse,” said Lisa Havilah, Powerhouse Chief Executive. “His collection documents a very important time of cultural change in Australia and is a significant component of our Australian fashion collection.
“Glitterati is the first time we are presenting Robert’s story and we are excited to be providing a unique insight into Australian and international culture through his distinctive lens.”
Robert Rosen: Glitterati
Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo (Sydney)
Exhibition continues to 19 June 2022
For more information, visit: www.maas.museum for details.
Image: Paul and Linda McCartney, Abbey Road Studios, London 1982 © Robert Rosen