If anyone could amass a fantastic collection of erotic photography, it would be the legendary Eric Kroll. A Los Angeles photographer who specializes in fetishistic erotica with a sense of humor, he is now exhibiting for the first time at the Anna Kustera Gallery a selection of photographs by Elmer Batters, Weegee and himself that show just how sexy, intriguing, funny and original the genre can be.
Widely known for his 1994 coffee table book “Fetish Girls’’ published by Taschen, Kroll particularly enjoys other photographers who share his passion, among them Elmer Batters (1919-1997) and Weegee (1899-1968), who he began collecting in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Batters, a foot-fetish pioneer starting in the 1950s, helped make the formerly closeted field of sexual interest more acceptable, even fashionable and hip. Weegee, on the other hand, who is known primarily for his tabloid photographs of New York crime scenes and urban grit, found his natural habitat in the lower depths.
Kroll began shooting kinky art pictures more than 30 years ago after a distinguished career as a New York photojournalist for publications like Elle, Vogue and Der Spiegel, and teaching at the International Center of Photography and the School of Visual Arts. Always fascinated by women, he won a grant in 1976 from the New York State Council of the Arts that helped fund his first book of photographs “Sex Objects”. He didn’t make his first truly fetish picture until 1988, when his neighbor Annie Sprinkle, the sexually explicit performance artist, lent him an outfit: a backless black leather thong, tall black heels, black leather eye mask and 1950s rocket-coned bra. He photographed his then-wife, Lynka, a statuesque blonde, in these duds, posed on a stool with her head tilted slightly down. The rest is history.