Longtime Mid-Valley photographer Norm Clasen is perhaps best known as the man most responsible for the iconic cowboy images appearing in the long-running “Marlboro Man” print advertising campaign.
Many of those images will be on display in a solo show through Feb. 17 at the Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2019 show at the Barker Hangar.
Clasen's photographs helped shape a visual lexicon that is integral to the iconography of the American West. His authentic and natural point of view guided our cultural perspective of the “Marlboro Man” to its zenith, with his work appearing in newspapers, magazines and billboards across the world.
The work also explores the later controversy over the appropriation by artist Richard Prince. Between 1980 and 1992, the contemporary artist appropriated Clasen’s and other’s images for his series “Untitled (Cowboy),” re-photographing, cropping and enlarging them to sell as artworks of his own. Clasen’s work offers the public a chance to see these authentic images as envisioned by their original author, offering a special opportunity to engage in dialogue and contemplation about appropriation, fair use, moral rights and authorship in the art community.
Clasen was born and raised in Southern California. An avid outdoorsman from an early age, his passion for photography grew from his love of the natural world. After attending the University of Colorado, Clasen moved to Aspen in 1962, where he founded and ran an independent advertising agency. In 1978, a series of coincidences led to Clasen being invited to shoot on numerous occasions over 13 years for Marlboro.
After living for many years in Missouri Heights, Clasen now lives and works in Carbondale.