Cowboys and Indians by Russell Young
Cowboys and Indians
Russell Young continues to explore the conflict and duality that informed his childhood vision of the American dream, inspired by the classic Woodie Guthrie anthem he has created a body of work that challenges our perceptions by contrasting two sets of images against each other, those of the American Indians who originally settled the land pitted against the faux American Cowboys created by the Hollywood studio system. In this series, Young presents a provocative juxtaposition on the enduring mythologies of the American West.
Russell Young was born in 1959 in Northern England. From an early age, Young was drawn to the quintessential “American dream,” which he thought represented freedom and possibility. He eventually developed an interest in photography, and studied photography, film, and graphic art at the Chester Art College.
Young’s first photography job was under Christos Raftopoulos, who eventually pushed Young to take on projects of his own. Young started at the live club shows of Bauhaus, R.E.M. and the Smiths. The talented photographer quickly picked up work for magazines, shooting portraits of Morrissey, Bjork, Springsteen, Dylan, New Order, Diana Ross, Paul Newman and many other celebrities, as well as directing one hundred music videos during the glory days of MTV.
Less than a decade ago, Young emerged on the fine art scene with his first series of screenprints titled “Pig Portraits,” which depicted celebrities through the police mug shots lens. This series included screen prints of Jane Fonda, Steve McQueen, Martin Luther King, Jr., and more. These works were and continue to be recognized as uniquely “Russell Young.”
Several series have followed Pig Portraits, including Rebel Rebel, Shoplifters of the World Unite, Dirty Pretty Things, Bankrobber, American Envy, Only Anarchists are Pretty, and others.
In addition to recognition for his iconic images, Young is also acknowledged for his use of diamond dust. He began using this technique in 2007, pressing the crystals into the enamel of the prints. No two diamond dust pieces are exactly alike, as the crystals are applied individually to each work. Young’s Marilyn Monroe diamond dust pieces continue to reach new highs at public auction. His pieces have graced the auction block at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips de Pury in both the United States and the UK.
Russell Young lives and works on the California coast and in Brooklyn, New York. His work has been shown in London, Paris, Berlin, Tokyo, Singapore, New York, Detroit, Miami and Los Angeles. His works are in acclaimed collections such as the Balthazar Getty (of the Getty Museum), Abey Rosen, Barack Obama, Brad Pitt, and more.