Last week we were saddened to learn that photographer Robin Holland had passed away at the age of sixty. In the work she did for a long list of collaborators and clients, including publications like the Village Voice and the New York Times, Holland shot everyone from politicians and celebrities to ordinary New Yorkers. But she had a particularly keen eye for artists, and her unfailingly perceptive portraits of some of the world’s greatest directors—David Lynch, Lucrecia Martel, Chantal Akerman, Werner Herzog, Spike Lee—demonstrated a deep passion for cinema and a sensitivity to its creators, making her a trusted figure in New York City’s film culture.
While looking back on her invaluable contributions, we revisited our correspondences with her for our edition of Paris, Texas, which features a few of her on-set photographs, and dug up these two beautiful images, accompanied by her own captions.
Wim Wenders, The Devil’s Graveyard, Terlingua, TX, 9/29/83
This portrait of Wim was shot on the first day of production on Paris, Texas. Note the never-to-be-this-clean-again white pants and T-shirt, the relatively unstressed expression on Wim’s face. The cast and crew had been ferried to this otherworldly location in a helicopter because, although theoretically it would have been possible to get there in a well-performing four-wheel-drive vehicle, the roadless trip would have taken days. Paris, Texas opens in this landscape. Robby Müller hung out of the helicopter to shoot the vastness as Harry Dean Stanton emerged from the monumental rock formations. I’ve been asked more than once if I shot the image in my studio, a few boulders in the foreground and a painted backdrop—I guess that’s what they see. But in New York, I too recognize how this landscape is of dreams, fiction.
Nastassja Kinski and Hunter Carson, Holly Beach, LA, 11/27/83
This portrait is in between being one of Nastassja and Hunter and one of their characters in Paris, Texas, Jane and Hunter. There were several super 8 “home movies” shot in Louisiana and Galveston, Texas, for inclusion in the film. Nastassja had come to Texas with her cat, and although she didn’t bring him to the set everyday, he did go with us to shoot the super 8. If you look at Hunter’s hands, you’ll notice that a black cord, the cat’s leash, starts there and runs across Nastassja’s left leg and to the ground—where the cat was, just out of frame. All photos show something that is ephemeral, fleeting. But my feelings for this image aren’t simply nostalgia or melancholy—Holly Beach, on the Gulf of Mexico, was destroyed in September 2005 by Hurricane Rita and has only been partially rebuilt, houses on stilts, follies behind a hardly adequate seawall.
Holland’s wide-ranging body of work—which has been exhibited at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the George Eastman House, and the Berlin Film Festival—offers an invaluable window into international cinema of the past few decades. For more on Holland, take a look at this tribute to her work at the Voice, which features a slideshow of some of her most memorable images for the publication.