What Paris and Nicky Hilton are to the paparazzi, photographers Christopher Makos and Paul Solberg aim to be in the art world.
Disgusted by the dumbing down of American culture and the mass media, the lensmen are now tagging their collaborative work “The Hilton Brothers,” a tongue-and-cheek swipe at the overexposed celebutantes. “It’s a response to modern contemporary culture,” said Solberg, adding that artists like Max Beckman, Otto Dix and Andy Warhol did just the same.
Images of Makos’ forthcoming book “Equipose” and Solberg’s “Bloom” have been combined for Hilton Brothers’ pieces. Both books will be published by Glitterati in October. The plan is to show the same images over and over to make them famous, something Makos said he learned from Man Ray, whom he is quick to note he met toward the end of the artist’s life.
The setting for their creative epiphany was certainly Hilton-esque. Makos and Solberg were vacationing on Lanzarote, an island off the coast of Morocco that they say is reminiscent of “Planet of the Apes.” Distance from the U.S. always makes Makos take a hard look at the political and cultural landscape, he said.
“We both like a healthy dose of decent trash, but the standards of what’s acceptable are sinking to a lower level. We are disgusted by what America is having shoved down its throat. It’s happening because the networks can make these reality shows for very little money and as a result many writers are out of work.”
The pair have been approached by the “Jack Jett Show,” a West Coast-based Qtelevision program, to do on-air reports from time to time, but they have not yet signed on. “We’re going to play it like true Hilton Brothers. If the price is right, we will do it.”
In August, the “brothers” will stage their first show at the Sandunga Gallery in Granada, Spain. Another exhibition of their work will be displayed at the ON Art Gallery in Marbella, Spain. For their self-promoting appearances, Makos will wear a horse-motif belt and Solberg will sport a flower for special events to clue in outsiders to the Hilton Brothers’ identities.
This story first appeared in the May 27, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Of course, the thing is always to get in front of Patrick McMullan’s camera,” Makos said.