Skip to main content

Fashion fans may be surprised by photographer Albert Watson’s newest exhibition, “Albert Watson: Skye.”

While many associate him with his fashion images, including 100-plus Vogue covers and more than 40 Rolling Stones ones, the new show is more natural. Shot on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, the images were inspired by Victorian Romanticism, Impressionist paintings and J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.” The show will be on view through Nov. 17 in London’s Hamiltons gallery, where Watson is expected Thursday night.

Claigan Coral Beach, Isle of Skye, Scotland, 2013

“Claigan Coral Beach, Isle of Skye, Scotland, 2013” © Albert Watson, Courtesy of Hamiltons Gallery

The Edinburgh-born Watson knows the area well even though he has been based in New York City since the mid-1970s. He vacationed there as a boy. The new show is rooted in a trip the OBE recipient took to the Isle of Skye in 2013. For five weeks he worked for 12 hours a day creating hauntingly ethereal images of natural landscapes.

“I was terrified of coming to Skye and producing picture postcards. I wanted to create landscapes that were quite mysterious, I deliberately went in October and November, because I was hoping for bad weather — and of course I got it.” Watson said in a statement. “I find blue sky with white fluffy clouds deadly when it comes to creating a powerful landscape and I was looking for wind and rain and mist.’”


“Albert Watson, Glen Claigan through Windshield, Skye Scotland, 2013” © Albert Watson, Courtesy of Hamiltons Gallery

Despite having no vision in one eye since the time of his birth, Watson has excelled in the visual arts. Although photography was part of Watson’s curriculum while studying television and film at London’s Royal College of Art, he had started taking photos as a hobby in the ’70s. A Max Factor assignment led to further work, including shooting celebrities for a holiday edition of Harper’s Bazaar. His portrait of filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock is one of his signature shots, as are others of Apple founder Steve Jobs and supermodels like Kate Moss. The new fine art-type show is markedly different than his work for Levi’s, Chanel, Gap and Revlon.


“Tree, Fairy Glen, Isle of Skye, Scotland, 2013” © Albert Watson, Courtesy of Hamiltons Gallery

Skye magnifies his gifts for contrasts and intricate compositions. Although the photographer is known to use the human body to create formal and sculptural images, this series is his only project to date that does not feature one person. The making of the 2013 project was filmed by the BBC as part of its “What Do Artists Do All Day?” which aired the following year and is still available online. The Hamiltons show features archival pigment prints of jewel-colored landscapes that were handmade in the artist’s studio along with four oversized black and white UV pigment prints on linen.