Introduction by Angela
I met Eric Kroll many years ago while visiting Miami and then again in Los Angeles. What struck me, was his gentle demeanor. His laid back personality was unlike other fetish photographers I’ve met. With silver fox hair, and a grandfatherly mustache, I instantly fell in love—not only with the man, but also the artist. His images are well-known around the world, and he’s often compared to Helmut Newton. But Eric Kroll’s work stands on its own merits. His carefully crafted style is a hallmark of early fetish photography (before anyone thought it was the popular thing to do) and it belongs to him. With each look, I find it difficult to tear myself away. This is because there is a connection and sense of humor to his work. From my perspective, it appears that he does not take himself, or the world of fetish, too seriously. So to honor the Godfather of Fetish, and to sum up the career highlights of Eric Kroll, I’ve reposted an article from Fine Art TV dated 2010.
Eric Kroll has no interest in photographing nude women. But show him a lady in a pair of extreme heels and panties, he’s all eyes. Best known for his 1994 coffee table book “Fetish Girls” — published by Taschen, it has sold some 200,000 copies — Kroll composes kinky art pictures noted for the rich mix of accoutrements with which he adorns his models: black leather gloves and red rubber corsets, fencing masks, cactus needles, cellophane, ballet shoes, bird seed, custom-made harnesses and underwear sewn together to fit two.
I don’t think my work stood out until I started using elements that really turn me on — high heels, stockings, vintage girdles
Raised in New York, Kroll began his career as a photojournalist. He worked for Elle, Vogue, Der Spiegel and other prestigious companies before devoting himself exclusively to erotism. It would take him a few years to turn truly to fetishism. Because even if Eric Kroll had always photographed women, it was only in 1988 that he took his first photograph of the genre. The first image being his wife masked in leather that set everything in motion.
With the passing years, Eric has accumulated a true collection of leather dresses, corsets made of PVC, back and neck braces, that he uses to spice up his images.
His models come from the street. How they meet is important. He generally invites them to look at his work, to see what he does. Then he awaits their call, and signs an agreement. Some of his models, admirers of his work, will also spontaneously contact him. Because Kroll does not shoot anything pornographic, he puts the women at ease by role playing or just having fun. He does not transform them into sex objects, and he makes them sexy by putting them into settings sprinkled with humor and nonsense. It is not rare thus to cross a woman holding a leash connecting two men or someone with only one leg as a guépière. One is not at all astonished, then, that one of Eric’s main sources of inspiration comes from the work of Man Ray. Kroll recognizes also the influence of Helmut Newton, for the majesty of his light.
After the launch of the mythical book “Fetish Girls” in 1994, the international German editor, Taschen, published two other of his books: “Eric Kroll’s Fetish Day’s'” (1996) and “Eric Kroll’s Beauty Parades “(1997). Later, he took on the role of editor while still publishing for Taschen. Eric has made retrospectives on artists like Eric Stanton and John Willie, two of the masters of bondage from the Fifties. Last has most recently finished his last piece of work: “The New Erotic Photography” where he gathered work of more than eighty photographers from the whole world. He thus created a panorama of current erotic art while bringing together among others Ralph Gibson, Jan Saudek, Terry Richardson, Natacha Merritt, Petter Hegre, Richard Kern, Bob Carlos Clarke, Thomas Karsten.
Kroll has confirmed his status as a historian of the genre and thus affirmed his statute as a living memory of erotism, making him the Godfather of Fetish.1