ARTIST BIO / CV

Matthew Russell Rolston is an American artist, photographer, and director known for his signature lighting techniques and detailed approach to art direction and design. He has been repeatedly identified throughout his career with the revival and modern expression of Hollywood glamour.

Born in Los Angeles, Rolston studied drawing and painting in his hometown at the Chouinard Art Institute and Otis College of Art & Design, as well as in the Bay Area at the San Francisco Art Institute. He also studied illustration, photography, imaging and film at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, where in 2006, he received an Honorary Doctorate.

While still a student at Art Center, Rolston was "discovered" by Andy Warhol, for Warhol's celebrity focused Interview magazine, where he began a successful career in photography.

Rolston’s photographs have been exhibited at museums and institutions. Selected group shows include Beauty CULTure (with Lauren Greenfield, Herb Ritts, Andres Serrano, and Carrie Mae Weems, 2011), The Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles, California; The Warhol Look: Glamour, Style, Fashion (curated by Mark Francis and Margery King), The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1997); and Fashion and Surrealism, FIT Gallery, New York, 1987 (traveled to the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK, 1988). 

Rolston’s photographs are in the permanent collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the National Portrait Gallery (Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at The Smithsonian, Washington D.C.).

 

Recent Projects

Rolston has created four photographic fine art projects that have led to a series of publications and exhibitions.

Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits, consisting of monumental portraits of ventriloquial figures housed in the Vent Haven Museum in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, was Rolston's first self-assigned photographic series. The work debuted at Diane Rosenstein Fine Art in Los Angeles, California, and has since traveled to venues in Miami and Berlin, among others. Rolston's third published monograph accompanied the exhibition.

Hollywood Royale: Out of the School of Los Angeles, which includes Rolston’s fourth monograph, as well as a traveling exhibition, is a retrospective of his editorial portraits from 1977 to 1993. Edited by long-time Los Angeles–based gallerist and curator David Fahey, this series presents an array of portraits that capture the 1980s and its myriad talents. From Michael Jackson and Madonna to Prince, George Michael and Cyndi Lauper, the selection of images reflects the era.

Art People: The Pageant Portraits is a series of emotionally-intimate portraits of participants in “Pageant of the Masters”, a tableaux vivants show that is part of an annual arts festival held in Laguna Beach, California. The project features dramatically-scaled color prints; one installation alone is over thirty feet wide. Ralph Pucci International exhibited this series in its Los Angeles gallery.

Vanitas: The Palermo Portraits is yet another dramatically-scaled portrait series, this depicting Christian mummies housed in the Capuchin Catacombs of Sicily. The project, which has not yet been published or exhibited, represents Rolston’s continuing evolution as a photographer and is an attempt to elevate his portraiture to a conceptual level.

Rolston has stated his purpose with art-making is to "pose questions about the things that make us most human.”

Publications

Four monographs have been published of Rolston’s work: 

Big Pictures: A Book of Photographs (1991) is a collection of early photographs published by Bulfinch Press, New York. 

beautyLIGHT: Pictures at a Magazine (2008) is a survey drawn from twenty years of Rolston’s celebrity portrait photographs published by teNeues, Germany. 

Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits (2012) is a concept project centering on portraits of ventriloquial figures, published by Pointed Leaf Press, New York.

Hollywood Royale: Out of the School of Los Angeles (2017) is a retrospective of Rolston's celebrity photography in the 1980s, published by teNeues, Germany.

Education

2006 Honorary Doctorate, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA

1989 Film Program, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA

1978 Photography & Imaging, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA

1976 Drawing & Painting, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA

1975 Drawing & Painting, Otis College of Art & Design, Los Angeles, CA

1974 Drawing & Painting, Chouinard Art Institute, California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles, CA

 

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2018 Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits, Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC

2018 Hollywood Royale: Out of the School of Los Angeles, Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2017 Art People: The Pageant Portraits, Ralph Pucci LA, Los Angeles, CA

2017 Hollywood Royale: Out of the School of Los Angeles, Camera Work Photogalerie, Berlin, Germany

2016 Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits, Camera Work Contemporary Gallery, Berlin, Germany

2014 Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits, Diane Rosenstein Fine Art, Los Angeles, CA 

1993 Big Pictures, Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago, IL

1992 Big Pictures, Exposure Gallery, Parco, Tokyo, Japan

1991 Big Pictures, Staley-Wise Gallery, New York, NY

1991 Big Pictures, Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans, LA

1991 Big Pictures, Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

1987 Matthew Rolston: Magazine Work, Photographs, Govinda Gallery, Washington, D.C

1982 Matthew Rolston, Portraits, Jennifer Dumas Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

1982 New Hollywood Portraiture, FOTO Gallery, New York, NY

 

Selected Group Exhibitions

2018 Greater than LA (with Larry Bell, Kelly Lamb, Lauren Halsey and others), Desert Center, Los Angeles, CA

2014 Joan Quinn Captured, Brand Art Center, Glendale, CA

2013 Joan, Joan, Joan, The Vi Smith Concourse Gallery at John Wayne Airport, Santa Ana, CA

2013 Through the Lens of the Blues Aesthetic: An Evening of Short Films Selected by Kevin Everson, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

2013 The Most Beautiful Woman in the World, SF Shorts: The San Francisco International Festival of Short Films, San Francisco, CA

2011 Mysterious Objects: Portraits of Joan Quinn, Santa Ann College Main Gallery, Santa Ana, CA

2011 Beauty CULTure, Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles, CA

2000 The Warhol Look: Glamour, Style, Fashion, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA

1999 The Warhol Look: Glamour, Style, Fashion, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia

1998 The Warhol Look: Glamour, Style, Fashion, Musée de la Mode, Marseilles, France

1997 The Warhol Look: Glamour, Style, Fashion, The Barbican Art Gallery, London, England

1997 The Warhol Look: Glamour, Style, Fashion, The Art Gallery of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

1997 The Warhol Look: Glamour, Style, Fashion, The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

1989 New Nudes, Govinda Gallery, Washington, D.C.

1988 Fashion and Surrealism, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England

1987 Fashion and Surrealism, FIT Gallery, New York, NY

1987 New Nudes, G. Ray Hawkins Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

1985 Working In L.A. (with Herb Ritts and Greg Gorman), G. Ray Hawkins Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

1984 Modern Masters (with Jean Pagliuso, Kim Steele, and Bruce Weber), Delahunty Gallery, Dallas, TX

1984 Modern Masters (with Jean Pagliuso, Kim Steele, and Bruce Weber), Hokin Kauffman Gallery, Chicago, IL

 

Selected Public Collections

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA

National Portrait Gallery, The Smithsonian Museum, Washington, D.C.

 

Selected Talks and Lectures

2018 In Conversation- Looking Back: Andy Warhol's Interview Magazine, with KCRW's Frances Anderton, NeueHouse, Hollywood, CA

2018 Art People: A Conversation, with cultural critic Katya Tylevich, Ralph Pucci LA, Los Angeles, CA

2018 Photographic Arts Council of Los Angeles Artist Gallery TalkHollywood Royale, Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

2018 In Conversation: Matthew Rolston's Hollywood Royale, with New Yorker Magazine contributing writer Christina Binkley, SoHo House West Hollywood, CA

2018 Hollywood Royale: Artist Talk with Matthew Rolston, with gallerist Ute Hartjen, The Battery Club, San Francisco, CA

2018 Iris Night Lecture Series: Hollywood Royale, with Vanity Fair contributing editor Matt Tyrnauer, The Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles, CA

2018 Glamour, Berlin, and Hollywood: Matthew Rolston, with Lee Kaplan, founder of Arcana Books on the Arts, Goethe-Institut Los Angeles, CA

2018 Hollywood Royale by Matthew Rolston, with Lee Kaplan, founder of Arcana Books on the Arts, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA

2018 In Conversation: Matthew Rolston's Hollywood Royale, with Wolfsonian curator Cathy Leff, SoHo Beach House, Miami, FL

2018 In Conversation: Matthew Rolston's Hollywood Royale, with author and Warhol collaborator Pat Hackett, SoHo House New York, NY

2017 In Conversation: Matthew Rolston's Hollywood Royale, with cultural critic Nadia Says, SoHo House Berlin, Germany

2014 The Rise of the Fashion Film, with New Yorker Magazine contributing writer Christina Binkley, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA

2011 Iris Night Lecture Series: Matthew Rolston on "Beauty CULTure", with journalist Merle Ginsberg, The Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles, CA

2009 beautyLIGHT by Matthew Rolston, with journalist Merle Ginsberg, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA