Photographer, and chronicler of the 80s NYC Downtown scene, Marcus Leatherdale has died.
Leatherdale exhibited for more than 40 years in galleries worldwide and was featured in The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Interview, and is in the permanent collections of museums like the Art Institute of Chicago.
Leatherdale was photographer Robert Mapplethorpe‘s office manager (and his boyfriend) and for a while remained in Mapplethorpe’s shadow, but was soon discovered as a creative force in his own right by Christian Michelides, the founder of Molotov Art Gallery in Vienna.
Upon hearing of Leatherdale’s death, Mapplethorpe’s brother Edward posted today,
This is very upsetting news…”
Marcus and I met at Danceteria (the first incarnation) in the summer of 1980 where he had just hung his first exhibit upstairs in the club’s TV lounge. (Keith Haring was a busboy at the club and had just painted a mural above the staircase up to the lounge.)
Later Leatherdale became known for his amazing portraits of celebrities featured in his “Hidden Identities” page in Details magazine. His models were often unknown, but he also shot celebs like Madonna, Divine, body builder/model Lisa Lyon, Leigh Bowery and Andy Warhol.
In the early 90s Leatherdale began spending half of each year in Banaras, India where photographed holy men, celebrities, royalty and Adivasi, tribal people.
In 1999, Marcus moved to Chottanagpur, Jharkhand, and recently he went from Portgual to San Miguel Allende and finally back to India just recently. I own several of his works (like the self portrait below) and we kept in contact throughout his many world travels. We were in touch recently as I am currently building a house in Merida, Mexico. Our last few conversations were of mutual friends who had recently passed away.
Marcus’ partner of 20+ years, Jorge Serios, and their dog Sasha died last year and his mother recently, and he had been severely grieving the losses. At this time I don’t know the cause of Marcus’ death, but I’d say it was a broken heart.
His last Facebook post, less than a day ago, was a quote by Albert Camus,
What is called a reason for living is also an excellent reason for dying.”
He will truly be missed. He left behind a quite a legacy and a remarkable document of his time. You can see more of his work here.