Marcus Leatherdale, Portraitist of Downtown Manhattan, Dies at 69

Marcus Leatherdale, who made classical portraits of Manhattan’s demimonde within the Eighties — Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and Sydney Biddle Barrows, in any other case often known as the Mayflower Madam, all made their option to his Decrease East Aspect studio — died on April 22 at his house within the state of Jharkhand, India. He was 69.

The trigger was suicide, stated Claudia Summers, his former spouse. His associate of 20 years, Jorge Serio, died in July, and Mr. Leatherdale suffered a stroke quickly after, Ms. Summers stated, including that he had additionally been mourning the loss of life of his mom and the couple’s canine within the final yr.

Mr. Leatherdale was the Cecil Beaton of Downtown Manhattan. He photographed a not-yet-famous membership child named Madonna in her ripped denims and his denim vest. The efficiency artist Leigh Bowery was majestic in a tinseled masks, corset and a merkin. Andy Warhol was a Hamlet in a black turtleneck. Susanne Bartsch, the nightlife impressaria, was a towering presence in pink leather-based.

The Montreal-born Mr. Leatherdale had already traveled by way of India and Afghanistan in a van and been to artwork faculty in San Francisco earlier than he landed in New York Metropolis in 1978, transferring into the Wild West of the Decrease East Aspect. He and Ms. Summers shared a loft on Grand Road, the place Mr. Leatherdale arrange his studio.

Theirs was not a conventional marriage, however they had been finest buddies, and he was Canadian, so it made life simpler in the event that they wed. His boyfriend for a time was Robert Mapplethorpe, whose images studio Mr. Leatherdale additionally managed. He and Mapplethorpe had been a placing pair, dressed like twins in leather-based and denim, their faces as if painted by Caravaggio, they usually usually photographed one another.

The Grand Road loft was an uncommon family. Ms. Summers was a dominatrix working below the title Mistress Juliette; considered one of her shoppers cleaned the place freed from cost. Mapplethorpe assisted Ms. Summers along with her work by providing her a pair of leather-based pants, a rubber garter belt and S&M ideas. Mr. Leatherdale, sober, tidy and decidedly not laborious core regardless of his leather-based uniform, was mock-annoyed one morning when he awoke to search out an English muffin speared to the kitchen desk with considered one of Ms. Summers’ stilettos. “What did you rise up to final night time?” he requested her.

Jean-Michel Basquiat was usually hanging on the market, enjoying his bongo drums; so had been buddies like Cookie Mueller, the doomed, gimlet-eyed creator and Particulars journal contributor who was for a time Mapplethorpe’s and Ms. Summers’ drug seller, and Kathy Acker, the efficiency artist and novelist. However principally what went on within the loft was Mr. Leatherdale’s work.

For Particulars journal, a chronicle of downtown Manhattan’s artistic communities — its galleries, golf equipment and boutiques — Mr. Leatherdale had a daily column known as Hidden Identities, for which he would contribute veiled portraits of his buddies.

He photographed Joey Arias, the husky-voiced drag performer, as a Japanese snow princess. Keith Haring was a rakish Santa Claus. Robin Byrd, the amiable stripper and cable tv host, wore solely her cowboy boots and a thong. Ms. Barrows, christened the Mayflower Madam for her lineage as head of a high-powered Manhattan escort service, wore a ball robe.

When Annie Flanders, Particulars’s editor (who died in March), pushed Mr. Leatherdale to incorporate these whose fame prolonged above 14th Road, he photographed topics like Jodie Foster, dressing the actress in a satin corset with a pouf skirt, one arm draped throughout her face — an atypical costume for somebody extra comfortable in bluejeans.

He photographed Ms. Summers, usually in full dominatrix regalia, tons of of instances.

“His images had been a celebration of why we moved to New York Metropolis within the first place,” she stated, “which was to be within the midst of that type of creativity and boundary pushing by way of gender and sexuality. Not that we considered it that approach or spoke in these phrases. Marcus photographed one of the best of who we had been, these idealized variations.”

Marcus Andrew Leatherdale was born on Sept. 18, 1952, in Montreal. His father, Jack, was a veterinarian; his mom, Grace Leatherdale, was a homemaker. He attended the San Francisco Artwork Institute and, as soon as in New York, the Faculty of Visible Arts.

In contrast to Mapplethorpe, who died of AIDS in 1989, and to whom he was usually in contrast, and in contrast to a lot of his topics, Mr. Leatherdale appeared much less centered on his personal fame.

“He didn’t appear to be going for the glory in the identical approach that Robert was,” stated David Hershkovits, co-founder of Paper journal. “He was extra restrained. I don’t really feel like he was ever distracted by what anyone else was doing. Shiny objects wasn’t his factor.”

“Robert was decided to be a star, in any respect prices,” Mr. Leatherdale told I-D magazine in 2017. “So after I began to be identified for my images, tensions grew.”

He added: “We had been inventive comrades, at first, till I obtained recognition. However in all equity, NYC is a spot the place everybody could be very career-oriented. I too was very bold, however not aggressive.”

But Mr. Leatherdale, with typical self-deprecation, stated he seen Mapplethorpe because the “extra completed artist.”

Critics usually lumped the 2 collectively, even years after Mapplethorpe’s loss of life.

“Marcus Leatherdale’s work has remained considerably within the shadow of that of his senior colleague, Robert Mapplethorpe,” Holland Cotter wrote in a evaluation of Mr. Leatherdale’s work in 1992. “Each take the nude determine as a central picture; each present a penchant for theatrically posed and lighted studio setups. Whereas Mapplethorpe went for a mix of shock and slickness, nevertheless, Mr. Leatherdale’s latest work shows an curiosity in fastidiously staged tableaux with a symbolic content material.”

By the Nineteen Nineties, Mr. Leatherdale was photographing nearly solely in India, making portraits of Hindu holy males, temple beggars, fishermen and pilgrims in the identical elegant, classical method he developed in New York Metropolis. He was drawn to the rawness of the life there, and the spirituality, Ms. Summers stated. Later, he began to document the Adivasis tribes, a far-flung minority inhabitants.

“I need to protect the custom of those proud individuals as finest I can, considerably like Edward Curtis did with the American Indians,” he told an interviewer in 2016. “My work could be seen as anthropological portraiture, even the classic New York Metropolis work of the Eighties.”

Together with his associate, Mr. Serio, a make-up artist, he made houses in India, New York and Portugal.

Ms. Summers and Mr. Leatherdale divorced in 2018. He’s survived by a brother, Robert. Data on different survivors was not out there.

In 2019, Mr. Leatherdale collected his work from the Eighties in a present known as “Out of the Shadows,” at the Throckmorton Fine Art gallery in Manhattan, and in a e-book of the identical title, written with Ms. Summers. It’s a haunting report of a vanished time and place — collectively, a real memento mori, as Ms. Summers stated, “although we didn’t notice it on the time.”

There may be Divine, the star of John Waters’ “Pink Flamingos,” regal in a satin shift, topped in a beehive. There, too, is Ms. Mueller, Tina Chow, Mapplethorpe and others who would quickly be useless from AIDS. Stephen Reichard, as soon as a good-looking artwork seller and advisor who favored to decorate in sharp, costly fits, is bare and skeletal from AIDS, a pieta on a hard wooden chair. It was his choice to be photographed this manner in 1988, and to climb the three flights to Mr. Leatherdale’s loft on his personal, although he struggled. Mr. Reichard died a number of weeks later.

“I didn’t notice I used to be archiving an period that was going to be extinct,” Mr. Leatherdale stated not too long ago. “I used to be simply getting by. That is simply what we had been as much as. After all, you suppose you’ll be 20 without end.”

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