Capturing the Spirit of Madonna NYC83

Accompanying Milk’s latest exhibit, Madonna NYC 83 – Photographs by Richard Corman, is a brilliant book by the same name. For Corman, it’s not only a collection of his work — it’s a very personal tale.

“My photos are my diary — when I’m photographing someone, I never forget the experience," he said at his Saturday book signing in the Milk Gallery. "I can look at any picture I’ve ever taken and tell you what I was feeling at that moment."

Corman held onto his images of Madonna for 30 years, waiting for a moment when they would feel relevant, when it was just right. “I wanted to redefine the photographs in a sense, to take these images from so long ago and give them a modern sensibility,” he said. Working with longtime friend and collaborator Yolanda Cuomo, he pieced together the iconic photos, telling the story of Madonna, New York and the “creative carnival” that thrived in the ‘80s.

“The energy that pulsed back then, that represents Madonna so well, is alive today with new vigor,” he writes in the forward. That energy is perfectly captured in the 96-page tome, from the stunning photographs and bright colors to the collaborations with Alec Monopoly, a graffiti artist whose neon creations leap from the page (and the back cover).

Art lovers and faithful Madonna fans lined up to have their books signed by the photographer, sharing their own personal stories of the pop icon. Several parents brought their children, excited to introduce them to Corman and share the photos of Madonna, an artist who’d touched their lives in a very special way. Recounting his days spent with the star, staging shoots on the streets of NYC, Corman noted, “She just had such an amazing spirit, that’s really my favorite thing about her, and what makes these photographs so special.”

Creating the book and exhibition has given Corman a chance to revisit his early days as a photographer in NYC. He even visited the apartment where he’d taken the photos so many years ago, which is now inhabited by a young architect.

“He didn’t even realize that the apartment he’s been living in for three years was hers, until the landlord told him the other day,” Corman said. “He called me and I went back there, and to walk into that narrow hallway that had been lined with the men and kids who lived in the building, who’d parted like the seas for her. To relive that 30 years later was so crazy, I just thought ‘Okay, this really did happen — she really was that special.’ It reconfirmed the experience.” An unforgettable experience that has come full circle, in the way that only those magical New York moments can.

Madonna NYC83 is available for purchase through the Milk Store. The exhibit is now on display in Milk Gallery through December 21.

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