New York

Edo

303 Park Avenue South

Edo started out in fun, taking a million snapshots and a hundred thousand Polaroids of friends and parties in Switzerland and Paris and London. By the time he arrived in New York he was a professional photographer and a tourist on Earth. His work still shows him having fun, but that fun is harder work now. His eye isn’t jaded or jaundiced, it’s very demanding. He looks for a small miracle each time and quite often he gets it.

This show contained pictures from the “new wave” period to the post–“new have” period, a white period and a black period. Edo is addicted to faces. The only faceless picture here is his portrait of Judy Nylon, a homage to Man Ray. Where Man Ray made woman into cello on the photographic plate, Edo photographed a back tattooed by Ruth Marten. Wendy Whitelaw, a makeup artist, is an extraordinary “Catwoman” with her black hair, white skin, black dress, black cat in one hand, and analogous anatomy under the other.

A famous dominatrix is captured in archetypal pose, whip perfectly posed, legs in black nylons perfectly placed; Edo’s high-tech lighting gear is in the picture, along with an electric heater, almost saying something. Deborah Harry poses with the late Anya Phillips, Harry’s face full of expectation, Phillips’ glamor a raw nerve.

Edo has done a number of record covers and he always seems to find a new way to get a group of people in a frame. In his portrait of Andy Hernandez (“Coati Mundi”), acrobatic girls seem to issue from the bandleader’s imagination. Cha Cha Fernandez is almost silhouetted in shadow, while his extraordinary girl singers emerge in the light, one with a hyper Harper’s Bazaar limp wrist, one centered and perfectly lit under her Ronettes-in-space hairdo.

The black-period photographs, all later shots, are black backgrounds with the subjects in white halos. Grace Jones and her martial-artist boyfriend Hans have the halo between them and they gaze off toward the light, which seems to blow by them. The lovely pop singer Madonna is centered in the halo, draped kneeling with a bare back like an art deco figurine, a man Edo calls “her chaperone” attending her, just barely visible in sailor gear in the shadow. An accident, says Edo, but the kind you look for.

Diego Cortez once said that Edo was the Richard Avedon of the new wave. Edo is really no more the new-wave Ave-don than he is the punk-rock Weegee, or a Diane Arbus who found the fashion world more Arbus than the Arbus world. He finds beauty a bit weird and weird a bit beautiful, but he doesn’t exaggerate, he just captures perfectly the attractive oddities he has arranged his life to encounter.

Glenn O’Brien