Bad Olympic Portraits Rewarded with an Exhibition in NYC

You know the expression, “there is no such thing as bad publicity”? It’s certainly true in the case of Joe Klamar’s “bad” Olympic portraits. After getting the Internet talking about (and criticizing) the images earlier this month, Joe Klamar has been given an exhibition in NYC at the Powerhouse Arena. Here’s the description of the show:

Many of the photographs were first met with harsh criticism from a bevy of news sites and photo blogs quick to highlight the images’ alleged defects—citing the off-hand poses, the stressed lighting, the scarred backdrops—and labeled the work an affront to the elite status of the American Olympic athletic team.

Such criticisms miss the work’s powerful and nuanced compositions and display of personality. Here we see real individuals at the peak of their athletic career in ordinary and impromptu poses, sometimes playful, some quite intense, in an unplanned setting. You will not see world-class athletes like this anywhere.

The exhibition is set to kick off on July 27th to coincide with the London Olympics.

Image credits: Photographs by Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

  • Cinobite

    Oh shut up you complete tool. People like you are why the world considers the “art” industry a laughing stock.

    Had he said “I wanted to express the imperfections of the athletes via their surrounds in the images and show that, at the end of the day, they are just as human as the rest of us…”, then maybe, MAYBE, you might have some weight to your argument. But he specifically expressed that he was unprepared and had the wrong equipment, HE, himself, stated they were bad photos taken due to bad conditions.

    Ted Bundy is unforgettable, That doesn’t make him a great man. If I take photo’s of a someone raping a baby on an iPhone, it would surely stir discussion, that doesn’t mean it’s art.

  • Cinobite

    No one wants to see these either.
    What you’re basically saying is, “You can produce, by your own admission, absolute rubbish, but if you know the right people we can get you famous”.
    Absolute joke.

  • Cinobite

    I saw a photo of a mutilated, raped corpse once, I won’t forget that. Are you going to advertise that as art as well?

  • Cinobite

    I’d have to disagree, with the amount of ridiculous trash I’ve seen posted as “art”, I’d have to say that “art” is most definitely bullshit and NOT talent.

  • Cinobite

    It’s not challenging anything, he didn’t set out to do this, it was, by HIS OWN ADMISSION, a mistake, bad work, poor photography.

  • 9inchnail

    We’ll see how many people will go to that exhibition. I don’t agree with “There is no bad publicity”, of course there is. But publicity, by definition, attracts the public. So if enough people complain about how crappy a movie, a music album, a photo or whatever is, the more people will check it out just to see if it’s really that bad. The artist becomes famous but maybe not in a way, he’d envisioned. People jump on every media bandwagon, it doesn’t matter if something’s bad or good, if it’s on television or mentioned in a magazine or blog, people will check it out. Especially if the original artist is not happy about it. Ever heard of “Schadenfreude”?

  • Andrew Gilmore

    He has already made a name for himself, Jon. His other photos crop up in newspapers on an almost daily basis. And I believe he’s won a couple of awards.

    He also explained that the ‘bad’ photos were not intentional. He hadn’t done a shoot like this before and came unprepared.

    Something like this has happened to everybody at some point… be glad your own mistakes and failures never got this level of publicity.

  • MLee Kneer

    Sounds like you are having to defend the decision to show this stuff. Whole lot of that back bone up kind of justification that my 14 year old son does when he’s done something he knows just doesn’t float.
    It always proves to be entertaining when he gets like that… This looks about the same!

  • checkmate

    Thank you. Everyone’s just demonizing this guy.

  • checkmate

    Special mix of both? Like a little bit of Instagram mixed with some pretentiousness?

  • derekdj

    I’ve been to several parties at the Arena and the shop, I’m a big fan of the company’s work, trust me, which is why I’m a bit disappointed with providing these photographs more exposure than they deserve. I’ll go down to the Arena for another event, I’ll pass on this one.

  • ITN

    The artist’s intention does not matter, only the outcome does. In this case the outcome is that those people who prefer to see glorified, polished pictures of (immortal and divine?) “super-heroes” rather than (imperfect) photographs of human beings are provoked into a rage. Others with a more open mind an see them as interesting ideas or sketches for portraits that show so much more even in their unpolished state than many of the other photographers’ work at the same event, the less of which is said the better.

  • Chris

    I think some of these photos are not that bad. It’s nice to see something different for a change.

  • Chris

    Hey Jon and Jay. I looked at both of your websites and I would pick Klamar over you guys any day.

  • Priss

    I think Andrew Dice Clay would have asked the question on everyone’s mind…
    “Who did you blow to get this job?”

    Seriously, though, I want to know who he knows, because if I turned in work this bad, I would have been laughed right out of the profession. Nuanced? REALLY? Sounds like someone paid too much for the work, and now they’re trying to make it sound as if it didn’t suck. How do you come unprepared for something that big? REALLY?

  • Vincent Adinolfi

    I just want to say that this comment makes the most sense out of anything else posted here. You can’t say art is bad.

  • Lisa

    I’m confused. The guy admitted he wasn’t prepared and never took photos like this before (I understand he’s well known and does sports “action” shots. I’m not going to criticize his entire life’s work based on these photos). But after everyone criticizes him for these shots, he hires himself a PR guy to spin that the photos are “misunderstood” and that everyone missed the point entirely and then gets a show with these images. Really? If I turned these photos in to my professor, he would not have given me a good grade – they’re not really good photos. (My sympathies to the badminton player with the birdie on his head – that’s just a ridiculous shot for an elite athlete.) Perhaps they’re okay for an amateur – maybe – but for a professional? Definitely not. If he was out of his league, he should’ve given the opportunity to someone else.

  • dogsonhotchips

    Joe Klamar is a talentless douche bag who should not be let near a camera, do not try to justify to me in any way or form these photos are of any creative standard, to even compare them to a photography students work is an insult of the highest level to photography students. Anybody who buys into this crap being of any worth is either blind, stupid or doesn’t have the balls to say out loud that these photos are a pile of shite!

  • Kristina

    Or Fifty Shades of Gray…. Horrific writing, but it’s all over the media, so it’s selling like hot cakes!