Victor Skrebneski, whose striking images of celebrities and designs including Cindy Crawford, Bette Davis and Orson Welles had been a fixture of advertising strategies and gallery reveals for far more than a fifty percent-century, died on April 4 in Chicago. He was 90.
The bring about was cancer, his buddy Stephen Rybka stated by a spokeswoman.
Mr. Skrebneski first became effectively regarded for photographing a print promotion marketing campaign for Estée Lauder, a deal he landed in 1962. “The Estée Lauder girl,” as the marketing campaign arrived to be identified, ran for decades in glossy journals and featured a collection of versions shot by Mr. Skrebneski, normally in configurations that advised previous income and refined style.
The campaign produced this kind of an impression that the business obtained 1000’s of inquiries from people who preferred to know where to get the tablecloth or the vase found in a distinct image. 1 lady mentioned she was redecorating her dwelling place to match a single in an advert and asked if the company could photograph the other 50 % of the place so that she could progress.
Mr. Skrebneski at times made use of rooms in his own home, on Chicago’s North Aspect, for individuals photographs. In simple fact, he told The New York Times in 1978, he utilised them so often that the head of Estée Lauder’s promoting agency advised him that he should really contemplate redecorating.
Though creating his advertising portfolio, Mr. Skrebneski commenced drawing acclaim for his celeb portraits. The black turtleneck grew to become his signature: He photographed Orson Welles, Bette Davis, Andy Warhol and many many others putting on just one.
“Everybody desired to be photographed in the black turtleneck,” he recalled in 2019 in the course of an event in Chicago in which he was remaining honored. “They desired the a person that Orson Welles wore.” (The Welles picture, taken in 1970, was the initially of the collection when he photographed Ms. Davis the up coming calendar year, he gave her a turtleneck that was numerous measurements smaller.)
Other celebrities and models in his pictures ended up not wearing a turtleneck or something else. 1 was David Bowie.
“He unquestionably cherished currently being naked,” Mr. Skrebneski explained. “He instructed me he didn’t know what he seemed like. When he goes to every person else’s pictures studio, they costume him up, they make him up, they do his hair, and that is not him, so he preferred to see how he was.”
One of his earliest celebrity photos, from 1967, was of Vanessa Redgrave, her arms crossed about her bare breasts. A 1989 exhibition of his operate at the newly opened Betty Rymer Gallery in Chicago highlighted much fewer recognizable bodies.
“The nudes have no heads, no arms,” Mr. Skrebneski explained to The Chicago Tribune. “I do not have to get worried about makeup and expression. It surely is sparse, the most crucial detail I could do.”
Victor Paul Skrebneski was born on Dec. 17, 1929, in Chicago to Joseph and Anna Skrebneski. His mom owned a cafe, and his father labored in the metal marketplace.
Mr. Skrebneski normally told the story of his introduction to photography: Though actively playing in a park all around the age of 7, he identified an deserted digicam, which he dutifully turned above to the park attendant.
“I took it inside of and gave it to the lady at the desk,” he instructed The Chicago Sunlight-Periods in 2000. “She said if no one picked it up in a week, I could have it.”
No a person did.
In the commencing he was his individual teacher, which, he claimed decades afterwards, contributed to the blurry spontaneity of some of his favorite photos.
“No just one advised me when I was 7 decades previous that I should not shake the digital camera,” he reported. “That was the commencing, and I favored the way it appeared, and I didn’t know there was any other way to glance.”
He did inevitably get some instruction, studying at the School of the Artwork Institute of Chicago and the Illinois Institute of Know-how prior to opening his very own studio in Chicago in 1952.
He later on toyed with the strategy of relocating to New York, but just as he was contemplating it, he acquired an assignment from Marshall Field’s, the Chicago division shop, and then yet another, and another. He stayed in his hometown, though in his extensive job he shot pics all above the environment and created a unique affinity for Paris.
Mr. Skrebneski experienced his critics. Alan Artner, reviewing a 1999 retrospective at the Museum of Modern day Photography in The Tribune, said his procedures ended up borrowed — the black turtlenecks, he pointed out, had been reminiscent of Richard Avedon’s shots of the Beatles — and known as the perform on screen “the visible equal of identify-dropping and gossip.”
Mr. Skrebneski’s marriage with the Estée Lauder business lasted 37 decades. In 1987 he released “5 Wonderful Ladies,” 1 of his many books, with pictures of 5 of the designs who experienced been “the Estée Lauder woman” around the decades: Phyllis Connor, Karen Harris, Karen Graham, Shaun Casey and Willow Bay.
Cindy Crawford worked with him in the 1980s whilst continue to a teen and credited him as a mentor, however they had a extended slipping out after she remaining in the middle of a catalog shoot to choose an assignment out of town. The rift at some point healed in 2016 she presented him with a Fifth Star Award, a area honor in Chicago.
Mr. Skrebneski, who leaves no quick survivors, was also recognised for his awareness-acquiring posters for the Chicago Intercontinental Film Competition, which often highlighted models wearing number of if any clothing.
“In 1966, I asked Victor to support make the Chicago Film Competition attractive,” Michael Kutza, founder of the festival, claimed in a statement. “He ended up putting it on the map.”
Mr. Skrebneski performed an integral aspect in refurbishing the park about Chicago’s landmark water tower two many years back.
“The mayor termed and asked if I would do it, and I stated undoubtedly,” he said in a 2010 interview on “The Friday Night time Show” on WTTW, Chicago’s PBS outlet. “I didn’t recognize that I experienced to get dollars to do it. And I’ve never ever questioned for income from everyone just before.”
The initially person he named, he claimed, was Cindy Pritzker, a member of a nicely-heeled Chicago loved ones.
“I claimed, ‘Cindy, how do I increase cash to get this matter going?’” he recalled. “And she stated, ‘Anybody who can see the h2o tower really should pay you.’ And I stated, ‘Can you see it from where you dwell?’ She explained, ‘Yep — uh-oh.’ So she gave me income suitable away.”