The photographer who took pictures of iconic artists in the bath
Images © Daniel Cooney Fine Art

Don Herron, the photographer who took pictures of iconic artists in the bathtub

Don Herron, the photographer born in 1941, graduated as a creative from the University of Texas at Austin and didn’t look back.

While Herron was born and raised in Texas, the photographer’s passion and drive for a different life led him further afield and, in 1972, packed his bags and headed to the West Coast to hone his craft in San Francisco. It was in San Francisco that the early foundations of Herron’s infamous photo series Tub Shots was founded. “I decided to do a series of photographs of people in containers,” Herron told The Village Voice in 1980. “The bathtub was the logical container to use. I started with friends and it grew from there,” he continued.

With an idea firmly planted in his mind, Herron followed the fledgling East Village art scene which was booming New York City from the late 1970s. While Soho was the capital of downtown at the time, the artists, creatives, outsiders and freethinkers were taking up residence in the Lower East Side, a location that Herron joined and rubbed shoulders with the likes of Robert Mapplethorpe, Phoebe Leger, John Edward Heys, Peter Hujar and many others who had been scooped up by the Andy Warhol factory.

“He was in the epicentre of creative Bohemia at the time and he was documenting the other creative people he was surrounded by so I think the place was integral to his work and this series especially,” Daniel Cooney told Far Out Magazine. “I think he was influenced by early European painting contrasted with the grunge and reality of New York City of the time.”

Herron passed away in 2013 and his work rose to prominence once more as the Daniel Cooney Fine Art Gallery housed an exhibition of the Tub Shots series took up residence in New York City. In many ways, pulling Herron’s work full circle as it closed on a life of creativity.

While Cooney added that Herron “had his own vision of what he wanted to accomplish,” it was clear that the subject of his images would dictate in which direction the private, sensual or sensitive images would flow. “He was collaborative and encouraged each model to express themselves fully,” Cooney added.

“He created a structure or a stage to let his subjects perform within.”

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