Studio 54 Set Designer, Photographer Richie Williamson Dies – WWD

Studio 54 Set Designer, Photographer Richie Williamson Dies – WWD

Richard “Richie” Williamson, a multifaceted talent in fashion photography, design and videography, died on July 3rd at the age of 75.

According to her sister-in-law, Linda Williamson, a Brooklyn-based creative visited his family in Midland, Texas at the time of his death. No formal service is planned, but the celebration of his life may be held at a later date.

Many may not know Ritchie Williamson’s name, but they may be unknowingly familiar with his work, said Matthew Yokoboski, senior curator of fashion and material culture. Featured some of Williams’ artistry at the 2020 Brooklyn Museum exhibition “Studio 54: Night Magic”. “

Williamson and Dean Janov dreamed of a set, a dance floor, and a “Moon and Spoon” sign to open Studio 54 in 1977. Williamson was described as “the artist responsible for designing one of the most iconic symbols of the disco era.” Yokoboski worked with him to create a video installation for every set designed at Studio 54.

“Today we are unaware that the moon is all covered with an airbrush. Ritchie was a master of technique and did great photo retouching in the pre-Photoshop era,” he said. “Interestingly, when Adobe first beta-tested Photoshop, Richie was invited to join.”

He also mastered video animation, as evidenced by the monthly surprises on Instagram, Yokobosky said.

In the 1980s, his pioneering position in developing techniques for Williamson’s photography, and more specifically airbrush photography, further helped his rise in Andy Warhol’s interview magazine. He maintained his relationship with Warhol until the death of the artist in 1987.

Williamson’s portfolio included commercial photographs of Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Revlon, L’Oreal USA, Ralph Lauren Corporation, Guerlain and other fashion and beauty brands.

Architect R. Scott Bromley recalled meeting Williamson 45 years ago. “We’re all just pitching in. I built that place too. Who knew that Studio 54 would be a common language? We’re making a nice little club with fun ideas. By the way. “

Bromley, who runs the Bromley Cardaria Architects PC, explains why Williamson has always been the next incarnation of his interdisciplinary work. If you are a designer of something, design is a part of a person’s life. Whether you’re an architect, a performing artist, or whatever, it’s in your blood. It’s your life. If things aren’t working in one direction, take it and move in the other direction. “

Williamson was born in Dequeen, Arkansas and grew up in Texas. He grew up first in a crane and then in Midland. His father worked in Gulf Oil and his mother was a housewife. As a high school student, Williamson one day turned to moving to New York to build his career. A few years later, his black signature style adapted to the city’s unofficial dress code. “He always wore black. It was versatile and practical. He could wear it in winter and summer. It looked good everywhere,” said Linda Williamson. ..

New York-based Creative stayed in Texas for about a month, chronologically organizing the art and archives stored in one of his brother’s homes. It’s too early to say what happens to the archives currently under the control of Linda Williamson.

He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1969 with a major in Studio Art and two minors in French and Art History. After graduating, he moved to New York and began performing arts. His involvement in Tom Even’s play “Why Hannah’s Skirt Doesn’t Go Down” helped raise his profile.

Williamson and Janov opened Studio Aerographics in 1975. Over the years, the company has not only been commissioned by Studio 54’s Ian Schrager and Stee Brubel, but has also created sets for musicians such as Kiss, Todd Rundgren, Cars and Barry Manilow. .. During his run in his interview, he filmed haute couture shows and glasses like the Carnaval De Paris.

By 1994, Williamson had once again founded the video production company WildKind Productions with Janov. They created, shot and edited music videos for artists such as Jay-Z, DMX, LL Cool J and Ghostface Killah.

Schlager could not comment on Williamson. However, in an interview with WWD in March 2020, Schlager said many believe that “month and spoon” props are promoting the use of cocaine. “You can’t be far from the truth. It’s all part of the nightclub director’s side, where everything starts underground. It was a bit. [about] It has that arrogance and confuses the status quo. It had nothing to do with promoting drugs. We certainly had nothing to do with the medicines that were there. And there wasn’t more medicine than anywhere else at the time. “

Ritchie Williamson
Photo coat

Former Bloomingdale’s fashion art director Fred J. David worked with Williamson to create models and advertisements for Janice Dickinson and Rene Russo in the late 70’s and early 80’s (she made a feature film). Before trying). DeVito, which runs its own agency, ranges from classic advertising (including Bloomingdale’s Studio 54 jeans) to Instagram beauty and recent animated photomontages that highlight personal and global issues. Emphasized the project.

Formerly Studio 54’s guestlist keeper and now co-sponsor of the “Mark & ​​Myra Show” on Sirius XM’s Studio 54 Radio, Myra Shear has made Williamson a “gentle, kind and generous spirit.” “It’s all about joy and positivity,” he says, creating a digital collage for Felix Organization’s Dance Asson and giving the nonprofit a medallion of the moon and spoon to benefit Satoko. Was offered to the auction.

Adam Isaac Itokov, in collaboration with Williamson on various art projects, said: [working in] Of course, everyone knows his work at Studio 54, from fashion to video editing, music videos, and set design. He was a true breakthrough artist. “

Ritchie Williamson

Ritchie Williamson

Williamson was the art director and co-producer of Itkoff’s independent short film “Lovely Nowhere,” which focuses on a man’s journey through New York and metaphysics.

Linda Williamson describes what she wants people to think about when hearing his name and seeing his work: He wanted people to take away whatever it meant to them. “

The goal of his life was to enjoy life and the people around him. Everyone around him had a great time. He was very informative and very interesting. He was able to meet anyone at any level in the world and have a great discourse. It didn’t matter where they came from, “she said. “He was always aware of others and was very thoughtful and kind.”

Williamson is surviving by his brothers Stanley and Robert and their extended family.


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