Michel Comte and Milk: A Collaboration

Image above: © Michel Comte, Tears, Italian Vogue, May Andersen / Courtesy of Michel Comte and Milk Gallery, NYC.

Last week, Milk Gallery New York presented a retrospective of photographs by acclaimed photographer, Michel Comte. The exhibition celebrates the 20th anniversary of Milk Studios as well as the 35-year career of Comte and his collaboration with Milk, who for the past two decades has handled Comte’s archive, provided his equipment and facilities, and served as the creative space in which Comte has worked almost exclusively.


Image above: © Michel Comte, 1st Look Crosses / Courtesy of Michel Comte and Milk Gallery, NYC.

In 1996 Michel Comte was dining at a cafe when he was approached by Milk founder and Creative Director Mazdack Rassi. who invited him to visit the new studio. Comte, who typically worked at New York’s Industria Studios initially balked at the idea. One week later he was hired to shoot furniture too large for the studio doors, and would need a location where the pieces could be lowered on to the roof via helicopter. Rassi rose to the challenge and Comte’s shoot inaugurated the new Milk studio, giving birth to a creative partnership that continues today, as Milk celebrates 20 years of operation with a retrospective of Comte’s illustrious career.


Image above: © Michel Comte, Hunger 1, Vogue Italia, 2014 / Courtesy of Michel Comte and Milk Gallery, NYC.

The ambitious nature of his first shoot would come to define this relationship with the studio. On view in the Milk Gallery will be a wide sampling of more than 70 works and a film taken from the many projects and series Comte - who considers himself a chronicler of time rather than simply a photographer - has shot over his 35 year long career, ranging from an ongoing series of mountainous landscapes focusing on climate change, to portraits of legendary visual artists. Perhaps most essential to the Comte and Milk creative partnership is the largest work on view: a food scene that originated as a culinary story for Vogue, which evolved into a punk themed dinner and eventually a bucolic Victorian scene. Themes of death and rebirth run throughout his subject matter and artistic approach, which he has channeled into lush fashion photography for clients such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Interview Magazine, presenting the beauty and effusive power of women.


Images above: Second from left, the artist, Michel Comte during the opening at Milk Gallery, NYC. © Alexandra Bendek

The exhibition is accompanied with a first edition photographic catalogue published by Damiani in November 2015 and titled the same as the exhibition, Michel Comte and Milk A Collaboration. The book includes a forward written by Michel Comte and Mazdack Rassi, as well as interview between Bobby Woods and Michel Comte.


Image above: During the opening at Milk Gallery, NYC. © Alexandra Bendek

Michel Comte was one of the first photographers to shoot at Milk in New York City after its inception in 1996, and the first photographer to shoot at Milk Los Angeles a few years later. Born in Zurich, Switzerland, and self-taught in the art of photography, Comte received his first international advertising assignment in 1979 from Karl Lagerfeld for the fashion house of Chloe. Within a few years, Michel Comte evolved to become one of the most sought-after fashion and magazine photographers in the world, attracting clients such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Armani, Mercedes Benz, and more. As an artist, Michel Comte consistently transcends the limitations of the traditional fashion photographer, working in fashion, portraiture, reportage and motion pictures. His work remains singular in its artistic voice and creative vision, and his legacy will remain in the pantheon of great photography. Like Milk, Michel’s work and archive celebrates the past while looking steadfastly at the future with a sharpened personal vision and sense of authorship.


Images above: During the opening at Milk Gallery, NYC. © Alexandra Bendek

Milk stands at the crossroads of fashion, music, photography, and film worlds. A media company based out of New York and Los Angeles, Milk spans contemporary culture and is a hub for nurturing creativity and supporting partnerships with some of the industry’s most visionary talent and innovative brands. As Milk celebrates its 20th anniversary as both a studio and creative hub, Milk Gallery’s upcoming exhibition will showcase the fruits of those creative endeavors, highlighting the work of Michel Comte and Milk as partners and collaborators, and celebrating 20 years of passion, creativity, and excellence. After two decades, Milk continues to provide a platform for showcasing not only legendary photographers like Comte, but also providing inspiration to the next generation of photographers and artists who are deeply influenced by these legendary masters.


Image above: During the opening at Milk Gallery, NYC. © Alexandra Bendek

The exhibition will be on view until December 22nd, 2015.

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