Inwards and Onwards – through the eyes of Anton Corbijn

On June 23rd Amsterdam photography museum FOAM unclosed an exhibition of selected photographs by Anton Corbijn – inwards and onwards. This most recent project of Corbjin includes some of his favourite artists such as Gerhard Richter, Alexander McQueen, Richard Prince, Iggy Pop, Anselm Kiefer, Damien Hirst, Tom Waits, Peter Doig, Bruce Springsteen, Lucian Freud and Karel Appel. Within a scope of four rooms you can get insight into selected works.



There is something witty and profound going on at Amsterdam photography museum FOAM. You enter the exhibition and find yourself in the centre of portraits. Gazes you cannot escape. Glances of incomparable profundity originating from familiar characters, captured in images that succeed in freezing the momentary mood of the model.

The photographer 

Corbijn, born in the Dutch town Strijen in 1955, left the Netherlands for England in the 1970s which was an evidently crucial and exciting time for the development of music Britain. Corbijn was attracted to English music in particular and made his early reputation as a music photographer. This peculiar British energy that went along and brought about musical artists that have surprisingly reached what nowadays’ artists are so desperately struggling with: endurance. Whether this is due to their high-quality music or the cult that we associate with the 60s and 70s, Corbijn probably contributed to these lasting image captured by a young photographer who knows what he wants. Even more, he found a way to operate as an interlocutor for the musicians and found an alternative way of expression. He has operated as such ever since.

Seeing the picture with different eyes 

Anton Corbijn is interested in how artists struggle with the creative process: the pain and the drama of the act of creation. His monumental black-and-white portraits blend austerity and aesthetics and attract attention because of the deliberate and exacting way they capture the character of the person being portrayed. The work shows Corbijn’s concentrated gaze, his feeling for wonder and his ability to empathise with another.

In spite of the styling and the apparent coolness of the images, Anton Corbijn’s photos have their own unique kind of intimacy. This comes more from Corbijn’s vision than from how well he is acquainted with his subject. Both the form chosen as well as the interplay of his concentrated gaze and the space that he continually allows to be determined by chance are essential to the strength of this work. In this series of portraits, Corbijn reveals an extremely personal and contemplative vision of artists which in many respects are decisive for our time and culture. The social and psychological consciousness that Corbijn reveals in these portraits draws viewers into the complexity of the creative process in an unexpected way and makes them aware of the struggle that often is linked to creation. Through this, the portraits give insight into the artists depicted as well as the creator of these intriguing photographs.
If you’re curious about Anton Corbijn’s depiction of several artists check out his exhibition at FOAM.

If you’re curious about Anton Corbijn’s depiction of several artists check out his exhibition at FOAM.


Corbijn knows his work which probably makes him that respected among his clients. Who else possesses the persuasiveness or simply authenticity to convince Mick Jagger to pose in a comparable ostentatious way as you can see at FOAM? The presented portraits are more than artistically sophisticated. They are revealing stories and character traits one probably hasn’t been aware of.  Or they simply bring those too well known uniqueness to light.

Expanding the profession 

In addition to photography, Corbijn  has delved into graphic design, producing music videos and, more recently, film. A decisive factor in the power of his work is that it originates from a strong personal involvement with his subject. This results in photos that differ sharply from the usual stereotypical images of celebrities. Many of Corbijn’s photos are characterised by an unexpected insight into the psyche of the person being portrayed. His photos always add something extra to what already exists and is known. It is because of this that numerous photos by Corbijn have grown into internationally recognised icons over the years – world-famous photographs of stars such as David Bowie, Miles Davis, Tom Waits, Bono and Clint Eastwood.

Also be aware of the upcoming programs that will replace inwards and onwards.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On YoutubeCheck Our Feed