Naomi Campbell to open retrospective photo show

MIAMI (AP) - November 19, 2008 Campbell and her posse of famous pals and photographers will descend upon Miami to present a collection of photographs of the supermodel.

Organizers from Art Photo Expo Miami say it is rare that top photographers such as Arthur Elgort, Albert Watson and Steven Meisel exhibit their work together. The show - running from Dec. 2-7 - will feature more than 50 photographs and several illustrations of Campbell, which will be for sale. The show coincides with the international art fair Art Basel Miami, but is not connected to it. The retrospective is part of a larger exhibit called In Fashion Photo, which will display an additional 250 photographs.

"I love my job," Campbell said in an interview from Moscow, where she was doing a photo shoot. "I have had a great, great career. I am not doing this retrospective because I am over.

Does she have a favorite picture? Not really. "It's my life basically," she said. "For me, each picture tells a different moment in my career and just for me its a timeline really."

Organizer Francois Trabelsi said he picked Campbell because "she's the biggest top model of the world."

"All big photographers of the world make some photographs or did something with her," he said.

Elgort said the first time he met Campbell was in the mid-1980s. He has photographed her many times, including with designer Azzedine Alaia, and one of those photos is included in the show.

"She was very outward, very fun. A nice, crazy girl," he said. "She had an amazing runway presence."

Although Elgort applauds Campbell's longevity, he said she isn't the easiest person to work with.

"She surely made history," he said. "She had her mind on making history and every once in a while if it wasn't history it was almost, oh dear ... she lost interest."

Watson, who has photographed everyone from David Bowie to Mick Jagger, said that having these photographers in a group show featuring a model as the subject is an original idea.

"I think that its fairly unique," Watson said. "Maybe just because it's Naomi."

In a photo by Watson, Campbell is seen in profile wearing a dress cut low with her shoulders exposed. It was taken for Italian Vogue. "I think what's nice of this photo is that it is more a photograph of Naomi ... of course, its more photographic," Watson said.

Watson said he has known Campbell since she was 15 and said she has always treated him with respect. "She was always on her best behavior," he said. "Naomi is volatile."

Campbell's bad behavior is legendary. She was sentenced to community service and a fine after she pleaded guilty to kicking, spitting and swearing at the airline officers aboard a plane at Heathrow Airport in April. Last year, she was sentenced to a week of community service in New York City after admitting "reckless assault" for throwing a mobile phone at her housekeeper. In 2000, she pleaded guilty in Toronto to an assault charge for beating an assistant.

"I really don't care what people say about me who don't know me. It's that I don't judge people and I don't like to be judged," she said. "I am hard working. I love what I do. I care about people. I'm loyal. I'm generous to my friends and you know, I try to keep my circle very small."

Campbell, whose first video came at age 7 when she appeared in a shoot for a Bob Marley song, has appeared in music videos by George Michael and Jay-Z and has a close friendship with Nelson Mandela. She also visited Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last year, expressing support for Chavez's efforts to help the poor.

"I don't like the word celebrity," said Campbell, who started modeling when she was 15. "I feel I am a model. This is what I like to do. This is the job I love and I am comfortable doing, and I still am enthusiastic and get excited about working with great photographers, creating great images."

Campbell said one of her dreams is to host "Saturday Night Live" and to play herself. She says others have portrayed her and have not gotten it right. "I would love to just make fun of myself," she said.

In a photo taken by Michael Thompson, a laughing Campbell wears a long, black layered skirt and a long white top. The photo was part of a story Thompson shot for W magazine in 1990s with another supermodel, Linda Evangelista.

"It's been a great journey," Campbell observed. "I've met wonderful people. I've been able to be involved in wonderful causes. Everybody has their path set out for them and I am following my path." These days, that path leads to her clothing line launch and book projects.

All of which will add to Campbell's fame, which has held for two decades or more.

"I think that her staying power is just her ability to always look fresh and of the moment. She doesn't age," said Thompson.

Watson agrees and adds that 38-year-old Campbell has become famous beyond modeling.

"She still looks good," he said. "Naomi had two careers. One was being a well-known supermodel. The other career was the celebrity side."

To sum it up, said Elgort, "She ain't what you call a passive person. She's definitely a smart, savvy kid."

"Who knows? Maybe 10 years from now she'll still be at it," he said. "As a fan of sorts, I always wanted to see her do more. Maybe she's meant to be a model."

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