Digital canvases with endless possibilities.


Step into the Future of Art at Art Dubai 2024: Explore Art Dubai Digital 3.0

et ready to immerse yourself in the cutting-edge world of digital art! Art Dubai 2024 proudly presents the third edition of Art Dubai Digital, where innovation meets imagination. Curated by the dynamic duo Alfredo Cramerotti and Auronda Scalera, this year’s theme ‘Expansion / Diffusion’ promises to ignite your senses with mind-bending AI, VR, robotics, and more. Here’s your guide to the must-see installations that will ignite your imagination and leave you spellbound.


Not just collectors, they’re collaborators, visionaries, and champions of the digital art movement. Step into a world where innovation thrives, as 10F1 partners with forward-thinking artists and institutions to redefine the boundaries of art in the digital age. With a dynamic blend of curation, support, and collaboration, 1OF1 is dedicated to empowering artists to soar to new heights. They’re more than just a platform, they’re a catalyst for creative growth and success. Join them as they spark lively discussions with leading cultural institutions both online and offline, shaping the narrative of digital artistic practice in our time.



37x is on a mission to redefine the intersection of art and technology. they’re a vibrant, dynamic space where digital and contemporary artists converge to showcase their masterpieces, captivate new audiences, and connect with passionate collectors. From exclusive member gatherings to luxurious brand partnerships, educational workshops, and immersive experiences, 37x is where innovation thrives.” They’re a blank canvas, a catalyst for collaboration, bringing together creatives, innovators, and investors to shape the future of art and technology. Join us as we rewrite the rules and inspire the world!



For over three decades, Leila Heller Gallery has been a beacon of innovation, fostering vibrant cultural exchanges between Western and Middle Eastern, Central, and Southeast Asian artists. From its roots in New York to its flourishing presence in the UAE, Leila Heller Gallery has become synonymous with pushing artistic boundaries and nurturing creative dialogue. Spanning an impressive 14,000 square feet, our state-of-the-art gallery boasts three expansive exhibition spaces, cementing our status as the largest gallery in the UAE. Here, we proudly showcase a diverse array of leading regional and international artists, many of whom are making their Middle Eastern debut. Our commitment? Supporting the evolution of established artists and providing a platform for groundbreaking new talents.



Welcome to the world’s first multi-sensory immersive art gallery, where creativity knows no bounds and the senses are ignited like never before. Here, the artist’s canvas extends beyond the visual, creating together a video, audio, tantalizing aromas, captivating lightscapes, mesmerizing effects, gentle mists of fog, and even temperature changes.



Since their inception in November 2001, bitforms gallery has been a trailblazer, representing established, mid-career, and emerging artists at the forefront of new technologies. Dive into a world where art meets innovation as they span the rich history of media art, offering a captivating glimpse into digital, internet, time-based, and new media forms. Their gallery is more than just a space, it’s a celebration of ephemeral, time-based, and digital artworks, advocating for their collection and preservation. Their artists shine on the walls of prestigious institutions worldwide, from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Tate Modern in London and beyond.



Since their inception in September 2015, Cinello has been on a mission to revolutionize the art world by bridging the gap between the digital realm and fine art heritage on a global scale. Their innovative technology, patented as DAW® (Digital Art Work), breathes new life into traditional masterpieces and empowers contemporary artists to thrive in the digital age. With outheir secure platform and cutting-edge encryption systems, DAW®s ensure the uniqueness, originality, and authenticity of digital artworks, all while preserving their certified provenance. Their patent spans across multiple countries, allowing collectors to own unique certified digital copies and museums to showcase otherwise immovable masterpieces.



Since 2010, Gazelli Art House, London, curated by Mila Askarova, has been a beacon of artistic diversity in Mayfair. Their gallery celebrates artists from around the world, showcasing their vibrant works through an eclectic mix of exhibitions and events. In partnership with their sister site in Baku, they spotlight art from Azerbaijan and neighboring regions, fostering a deeper understanding of their rich cultural heritage. In 2015, they ventured into the digital realm with GAZELL.iO, championing artists working in digital art. Their commitment to innovation continued in 2020 as they launched the GAZELL.iO Project Space and VR Library, the first permanent space dedicated to digital art in Mayfair.



Not just an art company, they’re visionaries, explorers of time, light, and space. Their mission? To represent and collaborate with artists who dare to push the boundaries of creativity and challenge the status quo. From the conscious to the subconscious, from the earthly to the universal, they celebrate the interconnectedness of all dimensions, their roster of innovative artists doesn’t just create artworks, they craft groundbreaking experiences that transcend traditional norms. With a focus on creativity, collaboration, and exploration, Espace invites you to unlock the boundless potential within the realms of art and the future. Are you ready to explore the infinite?



Step into the heart of Chicago’s River North and Bridgeport Art Districts, where Hilton Contemporary awaits. Specializing in modern and contemporary art, we showcase a vibrant array of paintings, works on paper, mixed media, and sculpture, with a unique emphasis on photography, film, and AI. From the United States to Northern Europe, the Mediterranean Region, and the Middle East, their gallery proudly represents internationally renowned artists, each bringing their own unique perspective to the canvas.



HOFA Gallery (House of Fine Art) is dedicated to showcasing the best in contemporary art from around the globe. Since their founding in 2012, they’ve been a beacon for established and emerging artists, offering a diverse range of disciplines and cultural relevance. From painters to sculptors, photographers to new media artists, they represent talent from China, Korea, the United States, and beyond. Their commitment to excellence has made us a go-to destination for government institutions, museums, galleries, and private collectors seeking the most sought-after works of art.



Holy Club is more than just a collective, they’re a powerhouse of creativity and innovation, dedicated to breathing life into creative projects through cutting-edge marketing techniques. They bridge the gap between art and technology, bringing the future to the present with solutions that are fresh, relevant, and forward-thinking. Step into their art galleries and prepare to be amazed by the diverse array of artworks from emerging and established artists. From traditional to avant-garde, they celebrate a multitude of styles and techniques, ensuring there’s something for every art lover.



Step into the future with Immaterika, where creativity reigns supreme in the Web 3 era. They empower and uplift new and emerging artists by providing the support, financing, and development they need to thrive. With Immaterika’s backing, artists can finally bring their projects to life, sharing them with audiences in Italy and beyond. Their team of curators, communications experts, and social media mavens ensures that artists have the tools and resources to navigate the art world with confidence.



They’re a powerhouse of creative minds, including art directors, designers, producers, curators, and media artists. Together, they craft captivating visual content for brands, media outlets, and cultural institutions, breaking free from genre constraints and embracing the boundless realm of creativity. Operating at the forefront of a new paradigm, they blur the lines between analogue and digital worlds, transforming content into art.



Welcome to LOOTY, where creativity and technology intertwine to ignite conversations across the art world and beyond. From reclaiming stolen artwork using cutting-edge blockchain and NFT technology to crafting immersive 3D experiences, they break new ground and paving the way for a future where access and education are paramount.



Step into the future of art with MakersPlace, your go-to destination for authentic digital creations from top artists worldwide. Since their inception in 2018, they’ve revolutionized the art market by harnessing blockchain technology to ensure the authenticity and rarity of every digital masterpiece. They cultivate a vibrant future for digital creativity, setting global benchmarks along the way. Just take their historic partnership with Christie’s auction house for example, together, they made headlines with the groundbreaking sale of Beeple’s ‘Everydays: The First 5000 Days’.



Welcome to Erma Gallery, a dynamic space in Dubai – and soon, Switzerland and Hong Kong – dedicated to pushing the boundaries of contemporary art. Founded in 2023 by Evgeniia Berezhnova, our gallery serves as a launchpad for artists exploring the fusion of technology and creativity. Supported by AA Meta, a visionary holding company in Abu Dhabi, Erma Gallery is at the forefront of digital immersive technology and sustainability. With this backing, they’re not just a gallery – they’re a powerhouse poised to revolutionize the regional digital art scene.



They’re not just curating NFT fine art, they’re revolutionizing the art world as we know it. Theyseamlessly blend the traditional and crypto art realms, fostering innovation and growth for galleries, artists, collectors, and museums alike. From virtual to real-world and hybrid exhibitions, MORROW’s commitment to substance and narrative shines through. With a multi-faceted approach, they prioritize the creative process, offering digitally immersive experiences that transcend boundaries.



At nineteensixtyeight, we’re not just a platform – we’re a powerhouse of creativity, specializing in photography and video. Representing an award-winning international group of emerging artists, we’re dedicated to producing, curating, and showcasing cutting-edge projects that redefine visual storytelling.” From exhibitions to special projects and artistic campaigns, we collaborate with artists every step of the way, offering management and consultancy services to nurture their careers. Whether it’s selling limited edition prints, facilitating collaborations, or mentoring photographers of all levels, we’re committed to pushing the boundaries of artistic expression.



Since 2006, Gallery NoW has been a beacon of creativity, specializing in photography and hosting numerous influential exhibitions. With a commitment to supporting young artists, they’ve held nine award exhibitions and curated dynamic showcases like the NoW Young Artist Exhibition and ArtNoW & Culture Exhibition. In 2020, they relocated to Sinsa-dong, expanding their horizons to encompass contemporary art across genres like painting, sculpture, photography, and crafts. With over 200 exhibitions annually, including special showcases and international art fairs like the LA Art Show, they’re dedicated to promoting Korean culture and arts on a global stage.



Excitement is brewing as Sanji Gallery gears up to unveil its brand-new multi-level space in the heart of Seoul’s vibrant art district. Stay tuned for an unforgettable inaugural event that will set the city’s art scene abuzz.



For two decades, Tabari Artspace has been a cornerstone in connecting global audiences to the rich tapestry of modern and contemporary art from the MENA region. They break down barriers, ignite cultural dialogue, and champion diverse perspectives. Led by an all-women team, they’re committed to showcasing artists who delve into the human experience with finesse. Join them as they pave the way for a more inclusive art world, celebrating the voices of women and marginalized communities in contemporary art.



They’re a catalyst for innovation in digital art. They spotlight and collaborate with mid-career artists who bring academic rigor and critical acclaim to their work. Together with leading experts in digital art and Web 3, they’re breaking boundaries and reshaping the landscape of contemporary art.



TON Diamonds is revolutionizing the art world on the TON Blockchain, their curated marketplace and auction house showcase NFT artworks from world-famous digital creators, bridging the gap between traditional and digital art, with cutting-edge blockchain tech, we empower artists to thrive in the Web3 ecosystem.



Since 2013, Unit London has been a beacon of artistic innovation, showcasing the world’s most distinctive talent on a global stage. In a traditional art market, they’ve championed a meritocratic approach, launching and advancing the careers of countless contemporary artists. With a commitment to equity, innovation, and accessibility, they’re reshaping the art industry. their bold, transparent approach has made them bridge the gap between physical and digital realms.



From the Moon to Art Dubai Digital 2024


Mirror of: DesignBloom | By: Ravail Khan

On the heels of landing the digital twin of its Human Cell Atlas Project in partnership with CERN on the moon on February 22nd, Ouchhh presented the physical twin at Art Dubai Digital from March 1-3, 2024. The globally renowned new media and AI data painting studio launched ‘HUMAN CELL ATLAS_Neuroorganismic AI Data Spatial Painting of Humanity’ as a feature work in both large-scale installation and one-of-a-kind collector works formats. Only a few days prior to the fair, the studio made its mark in the art history books by having the digital iteration of one of its most significant AI data paintings land on the moon via Intuitive Machines’ and SpaceX’s Odysseus mission’s moon lander.

The artwork was the first AI painting in history to make its way up into space. The digital twin is currently contained in a digital hard drive time capsule ‘Museum’ somewhere on the moon around 384 400 km (238 855 miles) away. One day, long after our time on this planet, someone landing on the moon will find this artefact of a digital drive, wonder what this mysterious object contains, open the files and witness what artificial intelligence once understood to be the state of ‘Humanity’ during a time long ago

ouchhh’s ai data paintings pave way for new means of creation

From March 1-3, Art Dubai Digital fair, the technology-driven section of the 17th edition of Art Dubai, brought together the world’s best-in-class artists, studios and galleries that leverage new media and represent the zeitgeist of art in the digital era. The standout and most-buzzed about presentation by Ouchhh was celebrated not only for its visually impactful installations, but also for the significance of the project — the contribution was quite literally ‘out of this world.’

Last week, the Istanbul-based studio unveiled the physical rendition of the recently revealed data paintings as a feature presentation of the 2024 edition of Art Dubai Digital, which was co-curated by Auronda Scalera and Alfredo Cramerotti, two leaders in the industry known for their forward-thinking focus on the art world. The presented works of ‘HUMAN CELL ATLAS_Neuroorganismic AI Data Spatial Painting of Humanity are part of an ongoing multi-year partnership with CERN, and were unveiled in two formats: a large-scale installation located at the main entrance of the Art Dubai Digital in front of Mina A’Salam Jumeirah Hotel, and in a gallery booth setting featuring a selection of smaller scale collectors works inside the fair.

The presentation at Art Dubai is in partnership with Chicago-based Hilton Contemporary gallery, recognized internationally for its representation of top domestic and international artists within the genres of photography, painting, sculptures and more recently new media. ‘Our gallery specifically focuses on initiating a dialogue to bring awareness to the contemporary issues of our times,’ says Arica Hilton, Hilton Contemporary’s gallerist-owner.

‘Ouchhh Studio pulled off an impressive double act for Art Dubai Digital; simultaneously presenting a groundbreaking artwork based on RNA database to revisit what it means to visualise ourselves,’ say Alfredo Cramerotti and Auronda Scalera. ‘The outdoor visual-and-sound installation on display day and night literally stopped viewers in their tracks between the Contemporary and Digital Art pavilions.’

Ouchhh unveils ‘HUMAN CELL ATLAS_Neuroorganismic AI Data Spatial Painting of Humanity’ at Art Dubai Digital

at the intersection of machine learning and art

If you have not heard of Ouchhh it’s a fair bet that you have likely seen its work in reality or online. Ouchhh is a cutting-edge, globally renowned, multi-award winning science- and data-driven new media studio that pioneered the art movement intersecting artificial intelligence, technology, scientific data, and art to produce colossal-sized digital AI data paintings, kinetic interactive art installations, projections, and immersive experiences on the world’s largest buildings and monuments, at leading museums and institutions around the world, and commissions and partnerships with the most recognized technology, consumer, and luxury brands. AI has boomed over the past year, but New Media Artists and Ouchhh Founder-Director duo Ferdi Alici and Eylul Duranagac Alıcı have been tapping the technology for over eleven years, leveraging new technological models to generate monolithic visuals through machine learning.

The laundry list of more than 70 monumental projects to-date include projects in partnership with Ars Electronica, CERN, NASA, Google, Signal, Bulgari, Hennessey, Mercedes-Benz, Nike, Audi, Infiniti, Absolut, Ferrari F1, TedxCern, League of Legends, Sony Playstation, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros, and Paramount Pictures, taking on a key character role in ‘Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning’ as ‘The Entity.’ Museum, institutional and festival commissions include World Economic Forum Davos AI House 2024, Melbourne Light Festival, Mori Museum Tokyo, Singapore Art and Science Museum, Frost Miami Science Museum, SAT Société des arts technologiques Montreal, Canada National Space Center UK, American Indian Arts, Atelier Des Lumieres, LLUM Light Festival Barcelona, PETRA Light Festival.

the work is part of the Human Cell Atlas Project in partnership with CERN

A multi-disciplinary collaboration with cern

With AI being the top-of-mind universal conversation across the globe this past year, it is fitting for Art Dubai Digital to have invited Ouchhh to participate as a main feature, as the studio’s work is exemplary of the evolution of art in this new AI era. Especially with the strong debate over whether AI is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in nature, if it will help or hinder humankind, the optimistic message and meaning of Ouchhh’s ‘HUMAN CELL ATLAS_Neuroorganismic AI Data Spatial Painting of Humanity’ could not come at a more poignant time.

Ouchhh together with CERN — the European Organization for Nuclear Research, one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research — has brought together an international coalition of over 2300 members from more than 1000 institutes across 83 countries. Scientists, biologists, clinicians, and mathematicians have united under this initiative, aiming to map every cell in the human body. This colossal effort serves as the foundation for Ouchhh’s ongoing art project, which visualises and interprets the staggering 37.2 trillion cells that comprise the human organism.

It is an outward expression of machine learning’s interpretation — or painting or portrait — of Humanity. It symbolises humanity in the present moment in time — the year that AI boomed.  Which makes it all the more sense why Ouchhh was invited to join the moon mission. As the ‘Human Cell Atlas Project’ in partnership with CERN is ongoing, there is more to come from Ouchhh in future.  Art Dubai Digital was one stop of many, and Ouchhh will continue to bring the installation to other destinations across the globe.

Katie Lister, Brand Partnerships, Commissions and Business Development for Ouchhh
Ferdi Alici and Eylul Duranagac Alıcı, Directors, New Media Artists, and Co-Founders of Ouchhh
the project is part of the Human Cell Atlas Project in partnership with CERN
the digital twin is currently contained in a digital hard drive time capsule somewhere on the moon

project info:


name: HUMAN CELL ATLAS_Neuroorganismic AI Data Spatial Painting of Humanity

artist: Ouchhh

program: Art Dubai 2024

dates: March 1-3, 2024

text by: Katie Lister

Podcast With Nayla - Interviews Adonis

Enjoy this talk it is with English subtitles done by a prominent Lebanese journalist


Art Dubai 2024 Unveils a New Programme for its 17th Edition


Art Dubai, is back! The highly anticipated annual art exhibition has officially returned for its 17th edition. Scheduled to run from March 1-3, Dubai’s Madinat Jumeirah will play host to Art Dubai 2024 showcasing artists from the SWANA region as it continues to serve as a crucial cultural institution, promoting artists, scholarship, and thought leadership within the region.

This year’s programme extends beyond being a commercial platform, emphasising its role as an institutional force in the cultural ecosystem. The 17th edition highlights Dubai’s increasingly diverse and multicultural communities, offering numerous opportunities for artists from the Global South, including collaborations with local and international partners, enhancing the richness and depth of its offerings.


The flagship summit, the Global Art Forum, will kick off the event on February 29. Curated by Shumon Basar and Nadine El Khoury, this year’s forum delves into the transformative impact of extreme weather across societal, scientific, and cultural domains. Distinguished speakers, including curators, artists, and thinktank representatives, will explore the subject, providing thought-provoking perspectives and insights.

Also taking place this year, Art Dubai presents the Dubai Collection, the city’s inaugural institutional offering of modern and contemporary art. Designed to inspire and educate audiences, the Dubai Collection reflects Dubai’s values of openness, diversity, and interconnectedness. The exhibition spotlights celebrated Emirati artists in a captivating group showcase titled “Encounters,” curated by Alia Zaal Lootah.


Represented by Lawrie Shabibi Gallery and featured in the Dubai Collection, Shaikha Al Mazrou is a promising artist known for her sculptural explorations. With a deep understanding of materials and their inherent properties, Al Mazrou draws inspiration from contemporary artistic movements, infusing her work with elements of colour theory and geometric abstraction.

In collaboration with Dubai Collection, the Modern and Collector Talks explore artistic connections forged during the Cold War. With a focus on Soviet education initiatives and exhibitions, these conversations aim to shift attention away from Western perspectives and shed light on artists from South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The talks provide invaluable insights into the art landscape and underscore the importance of institutional collecting and philanthropy.


The Arm Holding Children’s Programme is set to make a significant impact this year, as it expands its reach to over 100 schools, influencing around 15,000 young minds. This remarkable initiative collaborates with an esteemed artist every year to develop engaging workshops that extend beyond the fair’s premises. Working closely with private, government, and special educational needs schools nationwide, it aims to inspire children with a sculptural and architectural approach. Leading this year’s program is renowned Indian artist Sahil Naik, who will encourage children to envision the future of cities through his captivating artistic methods.

The 2022 initiated Art Dubai Digital is also hosting its third instalment. This segment annually offers a comprehensive overview of the digital art scene, with the goal of creating connections between the realms of art and technology. The current edition is being overseen by curators Alfredo Cramerotti and Auronda Scalera, and it aims to explore emerging trends in digital arts, including artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and robotics, while also proposing potential strategies for the future evolution and understanding of art.


The art fair will showcase a series of commissioned works that explore the themes of hope and healing. These thought-provoking artworks, including performances, films, and activations, will be created by artists from the Global South. Rooted in introspection and communal practices, they offer a profound exploration of the transformative potential of art during challenging times. Visitors will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in these unique creations, gaining a deeper understanding of the healing process.



Photographer David Gamble wasn’t just snooping in Andy Warhol’s medicine cabinet when he took what might arguably be the world’s first #shelfie in 1987. Handpicked to shoot the artist’s apartment shortly after his death, Gamble was “looking for Andy” in the mundane everyday objects, those that hadn’t yet been cataloged by the estate. “People thought I was strange for photographing it, but I knew it was undisturbed and pure because there wasn’t anything of intrinsic value inside,” he says.

“It was my chance to see Andy untouched. All of those objects, the skin care and Fashion Tan (11) and the Lip Smackers (27), give a clue to who he was first thing in the morning. That’s where he put Andy back together each day.” More than 30 years later, the analog shot reveals the pop-artist’s love of grooming—everything from high-end scents like Guerlain Extrait de Pot-Pourri Aux Plantes Marines (4), Chanel No. 5 After-Bath Spray (6), Guerlain Vétiver Talc (8), Kiku Afterbath Cologne (9) and Halston 1-12 Shave Foam (24), to a skin-care collection that ran the gamut from luxury lines like Janet Sartin (2, 3, 13), Christine Valmy (17) and Interface (23) to drugstore classics like Noxzema (25), Cetaphil (29) and Vaseline (32). Warhol wrote in his book, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol: “If someone asked me, ‘What’s your problem?’ I’d have to say, ‘Skin.’”

The acne-prone artist, who kept hydrocortisone (7), Xerac BP 10 benzoyl peroxide (14) and acne gel (5) on hand, had a lifelong fixation with his complexion. This led The Factory visionary to facial treatments, collagen injections, and, along with friend Truman Capote, into the office of famed dermatologist Dr. Norman Orentreich, creator of Clinique. “Of all the products in Mr. Warhol’s cabinet, the Seven Day Scrub (1) and Sub Skin Cream (26) are still very relevant today,” says New York dermatologist David Orentreich, MD. “My father instructed all of his patients to adopt a simple regimen: cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize.”

As finely curated as his skin care, Warhol’s body-care essentials included classics like Vitabath (30), Lubriderm (31), Neet (33), Sally Hansen Extrasoothe (22), Alo Sun After Tan (19), and some niche finds like the Palm Beachy Royal Poinciana After Sun Lotion (28) and Nature de France Green Clay Deodorant (18). Known for his trademark wig, the legendary artist’s male-patterned baldness didn’t stop him from perfecting his coif with Pantene (10), Vidal Sassoon (15, 21), Framesi Styling Gel (12) and scalp treatments like René Furterer RF78 (16) and Exsel Selenium Sulfide Lotion (20). “I am a deeply superficial person,” he once said, “If you wear a wig, everybody notices. But if you then dye the wig, people notice the dye.” We may never know the true Andrew Warhola behind the wig and glasses, but a voyeuristic look inside his personal stash shows, that like many of us today, he elevated his grooming routine to an art form.

In Azzedine Alaïa’s atelier in Paris, one group of collages by the poet Adonis. Credit Donatien Grau

Azzedine Alaïa Has a Different Kind of Show


Mirror of: NY Times By: Vanessa Friedman

Forget frocks and eye-popping knitwear. Think poetry, with a dash of politics on top.

In a move to reinforce the idea of creative community, the designer Azzedine Alaïa has transformed his Paris showroom, most recently host to three days of fall/winter défilés, into a gallery space devoted to the exhibition of more than 70 collages by the Syrian-born, Paris-based poet Adonis, one of the most famous of the Arabic world and often named as a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature. On Monday, Adonis was awarded the Kumaran Asan World Prize for poetry.

In Azzedine Alaïa’s atelier in Paris, one group of collages by the poet Adonis. Credit Donatien Grau
In Azzedine Alaïa’s atelier in Paris, one group of collages by the poet Adonis. Credit Donatien Grau

The show, which will run until May 10 and is the first time that many of Adonis’s collages have been publicly displayed, is the most ambitious cultural effort yet from the designer. (He also hosts the annual World Press Photo exhibit, as well as other, less formal essayages.) It also signals the beginning of what are planned twice-yearly, free-to-the-public exhibits in Mr. Alaïa’s atelier/flagship store/home base in the Marais section of Paris.

A catalog of the Adonis works will also appear.

Though fashion in general is having something of a public art moment, what with the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton and the Prada contemporary art museum set to open in Milan, Mr. Alaïa’s effort is the smaller, more personal version of the trend.

Mr. Alaïa decided to hold the Adonis exhibition, for example, after the poet gave him one of his collages, which involve superimposing words — his own and those of other Arabic poets — and scraps of material over a background of “invented” calligraphy, after a visit. (The trip presumably included a meal in the Alaïa kitchen, as most do.)

“Do you have any more?” Mr. Alaïa asked. It turned out Adonis did — when he was having trouble writing poetry, he would make some art — so they hatched a plan: not just to display a previously unknown side of the writer to the world, but to hold an event that would show, not tell, visitors a different side of the Arabic world than the one in the news.

In other words, the messaging opportunities woven into the exhibit escaped no one. Well, Mr. Alaïa is known for his uncanny ability with a knit.

Untitled, 2019

INTERVIEW // A Wandering Light in the Universe: A Conversation with Adonis


Adonis, born Ali Ahmad Said Esber in al-Qassabin (Syria) in 1930, is a poet, writer and visual artist. Adonis was exiled to Beirut in 1956 and moved to Paris in 1985, where he is still based. In addition to his poetry, for which he was awarded the Goethe Prize in 2011 amongst others, Adonis has written about literature and art and continues to be a critical voice in magazines and newspapers on political and social affairs. Since the 1990s, Adonis has been creating visual works of art with found materials which he has exhibited worldwide. In conversation with Immediations editors Ambra D’Antone and Erica Payet, Adonis discusses the different dimensions of his visual practice.

Virgule dans le Livre de la Civilisation
Fig. 1 Adonis, Virgule dans le Livre de la Civilisation Monothéiste, 2019. Mixed media on paper, 40.6 x 29.7 cm.

Adonis, you have an impressive reputation as a poet, more so than as a visual artist. In previous interviews, any mention of your visual works is always attached to larger discussions about your poetry. Nevertheless, when reading your poetry and looking at your works we can see immediately  that you try to break the ideological boundaries between the two, so that artist and poet are no longer distinct identities. In keeping our focus on your visual works in our discussion today, we wish to bring out this aspect of your work and to have a larger understanding of your artistic practice.  Let us start by directly addressing the objects. 

I have to say from the beginning that I don’t have a background in painting, properly speaking, or in sculpture. I don’t come from that tradition. It is true that I have met many artists and sculptors, and that I have written extensively about them, especially but not exclusively Arab artists. But I come at it from a different angle, from the angle of poetic vision. I believe that to be a poet means to experience the world wholly, as a totality. Everything is poetry. Even the peasant is a poet: he works in his garden, he works in the fields and changes them. There is change and there is reconstruction—within this cycle, everything is poetry. Everything, even love…all of it. I wanted to widen the frontiers and the space of the written poem. For that reason, I have tried to create poems with ink, lines and stains…just like this. They are extensions of my poetry and they themselves are poems, written in a different manner. Every poem, every work has its own personality, its way of being.

Untitled, 2019
Fig. 2 Adonis, Untitled, 2019. Mixed Media on paper, 37.2 x 29.1 cm.

When did you start making them?

I started a little over twenty years ago, by accident. I said to myself, you know quite a few painters and sculptors and you’ve written about them—sometimes one gets fed up of writing and reading—so I told myself why not try making something, giving your hands away to the ink and finally liberating them? And I did try. I made visual works for around a year, but when I looked at them, I did not like them, and I destroyed them. Then I started again, but this time it seems I did something different. One day my friend Michel Camus, the French poet, came to my studio and saw what I had done, these little things, and asked me who the artist was. I told him “It’s a friend of mine” (he laughs), I did not have the guts to tell him it was me! He said that he’d love to meet that friend, so I told him that I would arrange a meeting for the following week, in my studio. Michel showed up a week later; we sat down and chatted about various things for a while. About twenty minutes later, he finally asked: “So, where is your friend?” Only then did I muster the courage to tell him that I was the artist! He was very happy, he said he loved the works and suggested I exhibit them. Here, that’s how I gained some confidence in my practice and decided to carry on with it. Ever since that, many people have liked what I do and I have held some big exhibitions, for me they are immense! I have a big show planned in Hangzhou, in China, opening November 1st; I have already exhibited in China three times, but I have also shown the works in Paris and London…so you see, I am in demand! That’s how I carry on with it.

What type of subjects do you wish to represent?

Just like in my poetry, I want to represent simultaneously the small, mundane things of everyday life, as well as the farthest, most obscure metaphysical truths, the totality of the cosmos. These are my subjects, because I am not an ideological man and I feel like I have been thrown into this universe. I don’t concern myself with hard-core politics, with regimes and ideology, my works are not about that. I question beauty, love, the meaning of life, the future, the poverty that is so widespread in the world. Why is there poverty, in a world so rich and varied?

You prefer to call your works raqīma (رقيمة), rather than collages. Why?

That’s it, raqīma. We constantly have to create. I come from an Arab culture, and in Arabic the word collage has a bit of a negative connotation. But there is a word, raqama or raqana, which designates both the ink and the form, the line. So, I thought, I ought to invent a new word, raqīma, instead of saying collage.

Can you say a bit more about the importance of materiality and of technique for the raqīma? Where do you find the materials for the works?

It is just like the words in a poem. There are specific words that signify material things, and a poem is made up of different words, from God to a pebble. So, you see, my material can be everything. Anything I see, no matter what, plays a part in the symphony of the work. Everything, without exception. That’s why I find my materials in the streets. Once somebody saw me, while I was picking up something from a curb to use in my works, and the way he looked at me, I am sure he must have thought “This guy is crazy”! (he laughs). You see, it is like giving meaning to the insignificant.

Untitled, 2013

You have said before that you have “a problem with painting, with colour”, and that you prefer using ink.1 In the Fifties and Sixties, some artists rejected artificial paint, inspired by prehistory or pursuing a political statement. Do you establish a dialogue with these practices?

This is really personal. Using ink gives me more freedom than traditional colours, but I know this is relative. Maybe one day, if I ever have a big studio, I could master colour, create my own. Maybe then I could change. You see, everything is open for me, everything is possible—even the impossible. Ink is easier, I have control over it. I always like being at the core of my materials: I like to change them, break them, turn them around, make new forms from what is in front of me. Ink allows me to do that easily. Yet, I do hope one day to be able to do that with paint. I did try, in four works. A friend of mine, a painter, came to me and I told him how much I’d love experimenting with paint.2 He encouraged me, and I produced four canvases. He liked them and he plans to exhibit them in Venice! Those canvases are my first works not on paper. There have been many interesting experiences with paint in the past, there were many artists that used a variety of materials even without paint. Whether I am in dialogue with them depends—in the last analysis, the work of art for me is form, not an idea. The essential moment is the creation of new form, and the idea will follow. This is not easy. But this means that the artwork is open to every possibility, to every materiality. I can say this for sure: there are no limitations, and if there were there would be no art at all. The creation of art necessarily exceeds the boundaries placed on form.

The medium of raqīma also seems to allow for a reflection between existence and non-existence. You reflect a lot on the idea of the fragment, for instance. Is this conscious?

You see, a work of art is important only insofar as it opens itself up to a myriad of interpretations. Its wealth resides in that. When the meaning of an artwork is hard to pin down, that work is like an aperture onto infinity. That’s why the Old Masters are still talking to us. Michelangelo is here right now; he is drinking Perrier with us! (he laughs)

In the past, you have talked about the hand as being a privileged tool that is rarely subjected to mental censorship. Can you elaborate?

When I say this, I have a particular focus on Arab civilisation and the history of the Arab world, but I think it equally applies to other peoples and other histories. There is a perennial preoccupation with and interest in the mind and what it does: the creation of language, culture, imagination etc.  But we always forget about the hands. Think about it: hands are a thing of genius! That’s because they have no reins. The head is constricted by rational rules and limitations. While the head thinks, the hands play, and they are the absolute players. Art is the great game, in the positive sense, and God, who has created this world that is so varied and infinitely complex (but you can believe whatever you want), is the greatest player of all. So, I think, we need to free our hands. The artist, especially, plays with the hands: the coincidences and chance encounters between form and colour cannot happen but with the hands, because the head is always busy thinking, being rational! Hands are not enmeshed in calculations, and that’s why they matter. Though, this has been neglected by the public and by historians: have you read a single book about the history of hands in England? In Islam, hands have accomplished wondrous and beautiful things—not the head. There are hand-woven carpets that are worth thousands of books! That’s why I believe we have to care for the hands and set their genius free. Unfortunately, in order to do that I have had to do things that I did not have control over. Because yes, we want freedom, but that comes at a cost. We cannot be free in a cage, in a prison, or a restrictive tradition. There are conditions.

In your raqīma the written language plays a crucial visual function, almost like an outpouring of poetry into the visual domain, or a translation of one medium into the other. How do you understand this relationship?

Writing, in the sense of a sentence written on a visual work and its semantics, for me has nothing to do with form. Writing, just like a background, like a line, plays an integral and essential role in the artwork. It absolutely cannot be reduced to an illustration, an accompaniment. Form and writing are not separate, no. They are a whole. That’s why I occasionally use a pseudo-script, an imitation of language: I do not wish to create a writing and a work, but a work made of words, of lines and of ink. It is not a process of addition, but a totality.

Can you talk a bit about the poetry fragments that you choose for your works?

In principle, I like to celebrate the great Arab poets of the past. Poetry is very marginalised in Arab society, although Arabs have created nothing but poetry! It is their single greatest creation. Despite that, it is not well known, and it is disregarded. That is why I like to celebrate those poets—everything I write is meant to pay homage to them and to poetry.

Your work speaks in and of different languages: Arabic, your native language and the language you write in; French; the language of poetry; the visual language; the language of political criticism. What is the language you feel best conveys what you want to say?

Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, we only have one mother. Maybe we have more than one father, though…you never know! (he laughs). But one mother only. The language of creation is the mother tongue. My mother tongue is Arabic, so I write and create in Arabic. Additionally, there are languages of culture, that I like to call the father-tongues. My father-tongue is French.

You were one of the founders of the journal Shi’r together with Yusuf al-Khal, amongst others. The journal was a fierce advocate of translation. What are your opinions on translation? Not just as a literary act, but also as cultural and possibly artistic transmission.

The issue around translation is really complicated, and on top of that we can never reach a consensus. Translators and writers are always criticising each other’s translations! Once a friend of mine who is Russian told me “I beg you, Adonis. Do not read Pushkin in French, because rather than translations those are deformations!” I asked other friends of mine who are French, and they liked the French translations! My beloved friend Yves Bonnefoy, who has unfortunately passed away, translated Shakespeare. I could never find any English speaker who could criticise his translations! But, instead of admitting that Yves Bonnefoy has given Shakespeare a new dimension in French, we always criticise his way of translating and of rendering the original words. Translation is a space of conflict. Although, despite that, I firmly believe that our future culture will be founded on translation, or it will not exist at all. For me, the importance of translation is beyond discussion. We live in a multi-cultural and -linguistically plural environment; without translation there will be no future, because the future is translation. New generations will have to speak different languages, because only one language is absolute poverty—it cannot work! At the same time, translating a philosophy book and a poetry collection are different things, and when we get to the nitty gritty details my opinion is based on my personal experience. First, I believe that in order to translate poetry it is necessary to be deeply aware of what poetry is, it is necessary to know the poet and his language, more than one’s own mother-tongue. The mother-tongue receives the other, and so must be intimately acquainted with it. Secondly, we cannot translate literally. There can never be any word-to-word correspondence from one language to another, never. Because words in a poem don’t come from a dictionary, but from their context, from their relationship with the words before and after, as well as from its role within the imagination. Translating a poem means translating its imagery, not its words. So, you see, translation is a very complicated matter and we are never in agreement. Thankfully!

Untitled, 2019
Fig. 4 Adonis, Untitled, 2019. Mixed media on paper, 28.3 x 21 cm.

And speaking of translation—can you tell us about your experiences exhibiting your visual work to the public in Paris, London and China? Were those experiences different from each other?

The Chinese are more open, more understanding and disinterested in the art market that dominates Europe. I have sold many works in China, but only to intellectuals and such people. I think I am better understood in China than in Europe, although there are individuals in Europe—but it is a handful of people—who understand my works and my poetry.

In terms of being understood and communicating with an audience, is writing poetry for you different than making visual works?

Firstly, a poet never writes for others. The other always comes after. Look at this audience here: how can a poet write for them? It is ideological, it kills poetry. Everything that is common is anti-poetic. You see, when these people enter a gallery and look at artworks, they all formulate different opinions. Writing for the people is nonsense. And we must also ask: who are the people? The peasant? The workers, or the bourgeois? The soldiers? The regime? The absurdity of these questions demonstrates that these are nonsensical words, they are ideological and political. The poet wants nothing to do with that. Firstly, I write to understand myself better. Who am I? Secondly, I write to understand the other better. And thirdly, to understand the world better. To gain a better understanding of all three, in my writing I establish a meeting point with what we call the reader. The work of art is a space of confluence; there is no single message because there are many messages. The way Michelangelo speaks to us today is necessarily different from how he spoke to his contemporaries. So, we write to make the world more beautiful and more open, beyond all ideology. Ideology is a veil covering not just the face but covering truth and, ultimately, the world.

Does this apply to your visual works as well?

Yes, absolutely. They are also poems.

Let’s talk about your life away from Syria. You once said that exile is an internal condition rather than a geographical one.3 Can you elaborate on this?

The way I see it, we are all thrown into exile. It is true that we are born free, but that has nothing to do with real freedom. I was born, I came to this world free, but at the same time I was placed in exile. The human being enters at birth a state of exile. This essential and existential exile is a product of the ambiguities of the world we live in. Why live? Why die? Why live, if only to die? If we only live to die, why be born at all? So, you see, the problem goes deeper than ideology and faith. Religious faith is appealing to people, because they no longer have to think or to search or to struggle. They follow a ritual, and that calms them down. But for those who constantly question the human nature and the world, who question the beginning and the future, the finite and the infinite, there is no answer. For them the world is a constant search, so they are always exiled. Even when I am writing, I can never fully express myself—I am exiled within language. Today I am not who I was yesterday, I have changed. There is no place where man stays the same throughout his life. The condition of exile has nothing to do with geography; it is an internal, a human condition.

So, do you feel Syrian, or French? Or neither?

That is not a concern for me. What engages me and preoccupies me constantly is the earth, the soil where I first set foot. I love to see it, but I would never live there. Maybe it is psychological—I like to see who I was and, by contrast, who I have become. It is very personal. My country is these two or three meters where my feet touched the earth for the first time.

Let’s talk about regionalism: for example, Turkey and Syria are neighbouring countries, and have a shared Ottoman past. Modern artists had similar concerns and strategies in Turkey and Syria. Yet nowadays they are considered separate regions, ethnicities, cultures. What do you think about this? Are identities so separate, or was there some hybridity and cross-cultural transmission, historically?

This is complicated. Turkey for me represented hope, a hope founded on Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his reforms. A country based on secularity. It is hard for me to think about Turkey in other terms. Let us give the people who believe in God the freedom to pray as they wish. But the state, the law, the institutions, education…everything must be secular. I think this must apply for Syria and the Arab world as well. Without a clear separation of state and religion, there cannot be anything but decadence. And not just decadence—decay and the ultimate end! I do not envision a real human future for the Islamic world—Turkey, Syria, Egypt, etc.—without a radical separation of religious and secular powers. Otherwise it is a catastrophe!

The modernist Syrian artist Fateh al-Moudarres (1922-1999) once said, that “the artist is a witness of their time.” What are your opinions on this?

That makes sense. I would add that there are artists, poets and creative individuals who are part of history, but there are others who create history. History plays a part in their creative act. Everything that is institutional, political or social is bound to fade. The great kings and leaders of the world, the great political figures, they are all gone. But never Michelangelo or the great painters, who are always there. Never the great poets, who are always there. They weave history in their production—not just as witnesses, but as active creators. That is why it is in art that peoples and nations find their identity.

So, what role do your works play in history?

I do not know! This is not for me to say, only the future will determine it! (he laughs).

In the 90s you wrote a book linking Sufism to Surrealism. For some, this might be a contentious pairing—especially given the anti-religious attitude of Parisian Surrealists. Can you explain how you understand the relationship between the two?

Sufism, or mysticism, is crucially misunderstood. Sufism and the Sufis, whom we call Islamic mystics, have nothing to do with official Islam. In fact, they have completely changed the conception of God in Islam. In Islam, God is a force ruling the world but outside of it, detached, much like in the Bible. For the mystic, God manifests himself immanently in the universe, and the universe is part of him—destroying the notion of God in Islam. How then can we call them “Muslims”? Secondly, the mystics have also changed the concept of identity, from one of heritage to one of creation: being born a Muslim does not mean that you will remain a Muslim. We do not inherit our identity in the same manner we may inherit a plot of land, or a house. The human being creates his identity, in creating his oeuvre. Thirdly, they have changed our understanding of the other: in Islam the other is always a renegade, either a Muslim or a social reject. The mystics have reinforced equality amongst men. The I does not exist without the other, and in order to find myself I have to go through the other. The other is a constitutive element of the self. So, it must be clear that the mystics have subverted Islam completely, which is why Islam has forsaken them. The people here, the orientalists and their students, do not understand this. Think of the condition of being a woman in Islam: for the mystics, the feminine constitutes the origin of the world, against the official tenets of Islam. Moreover, the mystics have invented the practice of writing by dictation—a dictation which comes from beyond, like automatic writing. I have told poets, especially Arab poets to read the mystics before reading Surrealist texts and being influenced by them. But they do not want to understand that it is a mysticism without religion! Sufism is a Surrealism avant la lettre, as well as essentially an anti-Islam mysticism.

You have said that Arab poets of the past like Abu Nūwas (756-814 AD), Al-Niffari (10th century) and Al-Maʿarri (972-1057 AD) invented al-imlaʾ, the technique of writing by dictation, a sort of automatic writing like that which the Parisian surrealists used in the 1920s. Do you see the Arab poets as precursors of Surrealism?

I do not say that, but after reading the mystics and the Surrealists I do make note of the fact that there is a Surrealism avant la lettre. I have signalled this connection in my book Sufism and Surrealism. Though, people still do not understand that I am talking about a mysticism without religion and they criticise me, even if it is written on the first page!

In your book Le Diwan de la Poésie Arabe Classique (2008), you talk about reading the poetry of Abu Nuwas and al-Niffari and truly understanding it as revolutionary after having connected with Surrealism. What do you mean by this?

Yes, I do think that. In order to become acquainted with Surrealism and to be inspired by it, I think that an Arab poet should read what is available in his or her language, rather than a (contested) translation of Parisian Surrealist texts. Read what you have in your tradition! But they do not read it, they are completely mesmerised by the other. And by the way: Surrealism has been a great source of conceptual and visual inspiration, but it has never created a great poet. All the great poets that had encounters with Surrealism, eventually left it: René Char, Yves Bonnefoy, Paul Éluard, Louis Aragon…André Breton was an extraordinary theorist, a great character whom I admire as a prose writer—I am thinking of Nadja, for example. But he was not a great poet! (he laughs). Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to meet him, but I did meet Aragon in his last days, and Tristan Tzara too… Surrealism has caused an incredible and necessary shock to society, creating painters and theorists, but there is no great poet we can call Surrealist. Al-Niffari was the greatest Surrealist that ever existed!4 But this a contestable statement, because there are always imperialist considerations, and moreover everything that emerges from the Islamic world is immediately labelled as religious. Yet, we cannot identify everything as religious. There are and have been many who were born Muslim but are not Muslim, neither in practice nor faith. Abu Nuwas was a Muslim, for instance!5 Unfortunately, people tend to generalise. Never, in writing poetry or otherwise in creating art, must we accept things for what they only seem to be. This is complicated.

Were Surrealist texts available to you in Syria in your youth?

My French was poor, I could not have understood them. But I did read some when I came to Paris. The majority of my friends were Surrealists. The last great Surrealist that existed was a good friend of mine and wrote a lot about me and my works—Alain Jouffroy. He wrote a very good article about me in a catalogue for the Institut du Monde Arabe. And so, I was on the side of the Surrealists: I was their friend, but only to better understand the relationship between East and West, only as a Muslim. But the term “Muslim” has infinite variations. We tend to mask or even erase this variety, because it is difficult to find. Simplification kills it and renders everything banal.

Would you say that what people like the Syrian poet Orkhan Mīassar (1911-1965), Syrian painter ʿAdnān Mīassar (1921-1979) and Fāteh al-Moudarres were doing in the 40s and 50s in art and poetry—would you call that a Syrian, or Aleppine, Surrealism?

Yes. They were influenced both by Surrealism and by Sigmund Freud. Freud was particularly important for Orkhan, who was a great friend of mine. Unfortunately, this was a unique case. In Egypt Surrealism enjoyed more popularity. You know, to master the body the Surrealists resorted to mescaline and drugs, like Henri Michaux—to the artificial. They resorted to the artificial to arrive at the natural. This is contradictory. The Sufi, the mystic mastered his body naturally to arrive at the supra-natural. That is Surrealism. The Sufi never resorted to drugs and reached a complete mastery over his body, becoming a wandering light in the universe. We also have to discuss the importance of femininity both for mysticism and Surrealism. The feminine is the source of existence, in it resides the essential core of this world. To quote the Sufi mystic Ibn ‘Arabi, Kullu makānan lā iuʾannathu, lā iu’awwalu ‘aleihu, “consider worthless anything that does not feminise.”6 

What does it mean to you to be making art today, as a Syrian? Do you think art, and your art, has a role to play in the context of war and violence?

We would have to talk about this extensively, about what it means to create in Syria right now. But let me ask, what is the difference between creating now and before? It is a matter of degree, rather than ontological. You cannot create in a society founded on religious beliefs—there cannot be any creation, only repetition. We must understand that, so that instead of supporting fundamentalism, the Muslim Brotherhood, the terrorists, we can support life and people. It is shocking to see the France of the Revolution supporting Erdoğan or supporting Saudi Arabia in its war against Yemen. I believe that the problem is no longer in the Arab world, it is in Europe. Unfortunately, Europe has become a satellite of the United States, thanks to the influence of Trump, when it should be the opposite. Everything is subverted!

In your interviews this is generally the first question you are asked, so I will finish with it. In Ugaritic mythology, the figure of Adonis signals the cycle of death and rebirth, and was an important symbol for Shi’r. You are still using this name as an artist. Is its symbolic content still important to you? 

At the beginning, I never thought about that. I took the name Adonis by chance. But in time, I came to understand that the name freed me, it completely transformed me. I was part of a culture, but thanks to that name I started to break away from it, to be part of another culture. The west was a threshold for me, a completely new horizon. But that happened with time, not at the beginning. It was an absolute metamorphosis. Instead of being a member of a limited civilisation, founded on a religion vision, I became enmeshed in the universe. The universe is my nation.


Julian Wasser, the ‘Photographer Laureate’ of L.A., Dies at 89


In the 1960s and ’70s, he created indelible images of the city’s combustible mix of art, rock ’n’ roll, new Hollywood and social ferment.

By Penelope Green |  Feb. 14, 2023

Julian Wasser with Brooke Shields in 1980. He brought “an artist’s eye” to his photojournalism, a gallerist said. Credit...Brad Elterman / FilmMagic, via Getty Images

Julian Wasser, the artful and rakish photojournalist who chronicled the celebrity culture of Los Angeles that began percolating in the 1960s — a heady, sexy and often combustible brew of new Hollywood, art and rock ’n’ roll — as well as the city’s darker moments, creating some of the most indelible images of that era, died on Feb. 8 in Los Angeles. He was 89.

His daughter, Alexi Celine Wasser, said his death, in a hospice facility, followed a couple of strokes he suffered in September.

When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at a civil rights rally in Los Angeles in 1963, Mr. Wasser was there. When the Watts neighborhood erupted in riots in 1965 after a Black man there was brutalized by the police, Mr. Wasser captured the agony of a city at war with itself.

And when Robert F. Kennedy addressed his supporters at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in 1968, after winning presidential primaries in California and South Dakota, Mr. Wasser photographed the joyful young senator, just moments before his assassination.

Mr. Wasser photographed a joyful Robert F. Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in 1968 after winning presidential primaries in California and South Dakota, moments before his assassination. Credit...Julian Wasser

Yet Mr. Wasser was perhaps better known for chronicling L.A.’s counterculture and its outsize bohemian characters: He shot a bikini-clad Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson horsing around in a living room; Steve McQueen on a movie set, exhaling a plume of smoke and exuding a glacial cool; and countless scenes from the Whiskey a Go Go, the hot nightclub on Sunset Boulevard.

Mr. Wasser was also the perpetrator of “that photo” of Eve Babitz, the late author and sensualist, then age 20, naked and playing chess with the artist Marcel Duchamp, a stunt hatched during the artist’s retrospective at the Pasadena Art Museum in 1963. The museum’s director, Walter Hopps, happened to be Ms. Babitz’s (married) boyfriend.

Stories, and memories, have varied over the years, but as Ms. Babitz told it, the photograph was an attempt to annoy Mr. Hopps, who took his wife instead of Ms. Babitz to the exhibition’s opening.

Mr. Wasser’s famous photograph of the author Eve Babitz and the artist Marcel Duchamp. “I had always wanted to see Eve naked, and I knew it would blow Marcel’s mind,” Mr. Wasser said. Julian Wasser

Mr. Wasser said that the composition was his idea. “I had always wanted to see Eve naked,” he said in an interview with The New York Times for her obituary in 2021, “and I knew it would blow Marcel’s mind.”

The black-and-white image became so famous it showed up in a poster for the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The art critic Calvin Tomkins, Duchamp’s biographer, called it “an erotic and very Californian footnote to Walter Hopps’s historic show.”

James Danziger, one of Mr. Wasser’s gallerists, said Mr. Wasser had “brought an artist’s eye” to his photojournalism.

“You could call it the auteur theory of photography,” Mr. Danziger said. “You let things happen, but if it made for a better picture, you weren’t afraid to direct the scene.”

And then there were the photographs of Joan Didion, commissioned by Time Inc. in 1968, shortly after her essay collection “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” appeared. There is Ms. Didion, steady eyed and brandishing a cigarette, in a variety of poses with her Corvette Stingray, potent images now etched into the collective consciousness.

Mr. Wasser’s photographs of Joan Didion with her Corvette in 1968 are some of his most well-known images, and hers. Julian Wasser

The pictures appeared on Ms. Didion’s books, were recreated by the fashion company Celine in a homage to the author featuring the model Daria Werbowy, and were the subject of a 2015 show at Mr. Danziger’s gallery in Manhattan. They could even be spotted on tote bags, as Ms. Didion’s nephew Griffin Dunne did on the subway on his way to her memorial, sported by young women who were also en route to the service, Didion groupies with literary swag.

When Mr. Dunne interviewed Mr. Wasser for his 2017 documentary, “Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold,” Mr. Wasser recalled how he had shot only two rolls of film that day.

“He knew he got it right away,” Mr. Dunne said. What he did not anticipate, he added, was how people would react to the photos. “He never dreamed they would be on tote bags, as iconic as a Che Guevara T-shirt,” he said.

When the Watts neighborhood erupted in riots in 1965, Mr. Wasser chronicled a city at war with itself. Julian Wasser

With his shaggy hair, leather jacket and holster of beepers and police scanners, an assortment of cameras and press badges slung around his neck, Mr. Wasser was quite a presence himself, said Craig Krull, a gallerist who represented him for the last 30 years. “He had an unflinching eye for the intensity of experience in L.A.,” Mr. Krull said, “whether it’s a club on Sunset Strip or the Manson murders or the Watts riots.”

Mark Rozzo, whose 2022 book, “Everybody Thought We Were Crazy: Dennis Hopper, Brooke Hayward and 1960s Los Angeles,” covers much of the territory that Mr. Wasser did and used one of his photos — of Ms. Hayward and Mr. Hopper looking especially mod and particularly glum — said that Mr. Wasser was “perhaps the closest thing that Los Angeles has had to a photographer laureate.”

Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson horsing around in 1971. Mr. Wasser excelled at capturing Hollywood’s beau monde at play. Julian Wasser

At least for his rollicking moment. “This was the period of Didion writing in The Saturday Evening Post and Ed Ruscha’s street-inspired pop art and Brian Wilson’s teenage symphonies to God,” Mr. Rozzo said. “Julian was right in the center of it all, and he made sure he was at the center.”

Julian Wolf Wasser was born on April 26, 1933, in Bryn Mawr, Pa., the only child of Leo and Frances (Rothman) Wasser. His father was a lawyer, his mother a schoolteacher. He grew up in the Bronx and Washington, D.C.

A teenage news junkie, Julian cut school and sneaked out of his room at night in imitation of his hero, Arthur Fellig, the photographer better known as Weegee, to chase down crime scenes with a police scanner and submit the photographs to newspapers, which inevitably published them.

Steve McQueen on the set of “Love with the Proper Stranger” in 1963, exuding a glacial cool. Julian Wasser

“Every night I would climb out my bedroom window and steal my father’s car when I was 12 and take pictures, and they’d be on the front page of The Washington Post,” Mr. Wasser told a television reporter in 2019. “My father would say, ‘Look, there’s another Julian Wasser in Washington.’ I said, ‘Yeah, Dad.’”

He worked as a copy boy for The Associated Press in Washington and, by his account, was able to meet Weegee and accompany him to crime scenes when the photographer visited Washington.

By the 1960s, Mr. Wasser was in Los Angeles, on contract for Time Inc. and contributing to Time, Fortune and Life magazines. He later contributed to Vanity Fair, Paris Match, Der Spiegel and Playboy magazines.

When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed a civil rights rally in Los Angeles in 1963, Mr. Wasser was there.

His daughter said that as a child she was often deputized as her father’s assistant. She monitored his ever-crackling police scanner: “Daddy, the night stalker is being arrested!” (She was 4 years old at the time.)

When Will Smith married Sheree Zampino, his first wife, the Wassers crashed the wedding. Alexi Wasser, then 11, was armed with a disposable camera, which she was savvy enough to stash under her shirt when security arrived to remove the unauthorized photo team. She recalled her father saying with a straight face, “I’ve never seen that kid before.”

“It was all very absurd and ridiculous,” she said. “Later Julian told me my photographs ran in whatever tabloid he was shooting for, but he stole my credit line. Our relationship had a very Ryan and Tatum O’Neal ‘Paper Moon’-esque quality.”

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Wasser is survived by a son, James.

In 2014, Mr. Wasser published a photographic memoir, “The Way We Were,” more than 170 pages of his greatest hits, and then some.

Mr. Wasser, left, in 2017 with James Agnew, manager of the Leica Gallery in Los Angeles, during an exhibition. Getty Images

“The effect of so many otherworldly behind-the-scenes pictures plays out like a kind of movie in itself,” Rebecca Bengal wrote in the New York Times magazine T. “As Wasser captures them, in grainy close-ups and candids, the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s marked a time of unusual access: carefree, hair-let-down moments and stars mingling with real people.”

“It wasn’t like it is now,” Mr. Wasser told The Guardian in 2014. “There were no paparazzi, no VIP sections, no security. It was a really innocent time. You’d just walk up and there they were. They’d stop and smile and pose.

“Now it’s a business,” he continued. “If you want exclusive access to a celebrity, you have to pay big money. You weren’t considered some sort of psychotic menace who’s going to rob or kill them either. Now they’ll call their security person and you’ll get beat up.”

A correction was made on Feb. 15, 2023: An earlier version of a picture caption with this obituary misstated when the photo of Jack Nicholson and Anjelica Huston was taken. It was 1974, not 1971.