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Monday, August 10, 2009

Andy Katz: Oenophilia

With his deep-rooted connection to wine country and the vineyard lifestyle, Andy Katz has staked out a successful niche capturing all aspects of these romanticized and idyllic locales


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Known for wine photography, classic album covers and fine-art nudes, Andy Katz has made a life full of women, wine and song. Trees create an old-world atmosphere in Tuscany, known for its classic vineyards.
Robert Louis Stevenson once observed that “wine is bottled poetry.” Through his lens, Andy Katz has uncorked some of that poetry, bringing the majesty and serenity of some of the world’s most expressive vineyards to light.

Since an assignment for a Colorado restaurateur sent him on a commercial shoot to Napa Valley and Sonoma in California, Katz has traveled the globe, capturing the essence of its various “wine countries” in books, galleries and a vast commercial portfolio.

Self-effacing, Katz likes to joke that he’s working in the “fluff side” of photography. His travels through wine country are “really just a nice excuse to take pretty pictures.”

That’s not to suggest Katz lacks gravitas. Though renowned for his wine work, Katz’s portfolio includes portraiture, nature photography and nudes. In fact, he’s restless to avoid being pigeonholed as “the wine photographer.” When the Berlin Wall fell, liberating Eastern Europe, Katz toured the former Soviet satellites, Russia and Israel for a project documenting vanishing Jewish societies. The tour led Katz through the grim ruins of concentration camps. “It’s remarkable that you can stand in the place and really feel the evil,” he says.

“When that project was done, I was beat up. I was in a horrendous mood. I decided to just do wine and nudes,” he says. “That was a lot more relaxing.”

A native of White Plains, N.Y., Katz was introduced to photography through the work of the legendary Armenian-born Yousuf Karsh. “My father gave me a book of his portraits when I was 11 years old,” Katz recalls. “I was just enamored with the detail.”

As he became immersed in photography, the works of Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Man Ray and Paul Strand also would serve as inspirational guideposts. “I knew for a long time that photography was what I’d be doing with my life.”

As he became immersed in photography, the works of Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Man Ray and Paul Strand also would serve as inspirational guideposts. “I knew for a long time that photography was what I’d be doing with my life,” he says.

 

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