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Adrian Buckmaster’s Fantastical An Embarrassment of Riches Delivers Exactly That

Adrian Buckmaster’s Fantastical An Embarrassment of Riches Delivers Exactly That

Adrian

The British-born, Brooklyn-based photographer’s new book captures queer and non-queer artists and performers in lavish, surreal fashion.

"Adrian loves to create an image that tells a story, gives a glimpse of a story, or of another world," says Darrell Thorne, one of dozens of subjects breathtakingly captured by photographer Adrian Buckmaster in his new book, An Embarrassment of Riches. Thorne, a performance artist, costume designer, and 2014 Out100 honoree, says that upon picking up the finished book by Buckmaster, a British-born, Brooklyn-based photog, he was reminded of the photography, art, and fashion books that inspired him in childhood. "I had the wonderful realization that perhaps this book would make it into some young person's hands," says Thorne, whose elaborate handmade headpieces Buckmaster showcases in detail. "I felt the images I contributed to might serve as inspiration for them."

Buckmaster himself was inspired by all manner of subjects, the cohesive link being an edgy, yet classic, sophistication, and a presentation that's both very human and slightly north of reality.

SLIDESHOW | Photos from An Embarrassment of Riches

Broken into three sections -- "Imposing," "Revealing," and "Inventing" --An Embarrassment of Riches features models, dancers, burlesque performers, families, contortionists, and more (queer and non-queer alike) caught in moments ranging from the dynamic to the strikingly intimate. In the same venue, Buckmaster places half-exposed buxom models with women in flowing Victorian gowns, while also leaving ample room for the ornate artistry of people like Thorne.

"When I looked through the book, I saw so many of my friends on the pages, seen in their truest and most fantasy selves," says internationally renowned burlesque artist and chanteuse Veronica Varlow, who appears in an especially fantastical image with Thorne, and points out Buckmaster's paradoxical knack for merging the real and the imagined. "I hope that viewers will know that whatever we can dream, we can craft on the outside. We can be the fantasies of ourselves made real."

Fellow Embarrassment of Riches subject Dorothy Darker, a New York-based painter and hostess who throws elaborate parties that become artworks themselves, adds, "I hope these images convey the power in art and individuality. When I'm in front of Adrian's camera, I am a muse, a performer, a collaborator, an object, and a tool for his using. When you see these pictures you see an artist being presented by an artist."

Featuring a foreword by New York nightlife legend Susanne Bartsch (who observes, "Buckmaster shows us that the public face of an entertainer is just one facet of an individual who is far more fascinating when we see them as a whole human being"), An Embarassment of Riches lives up to its title, with 295 black-and-white and color photographs scattered across an epic 272 pages. It concludes with a series of wildly inventive pictures of the creations and cohorts of Muffinhead, an extraordinarily over-the-top costume artist whose work suggests Lewis Carroll as seen through intoxicated eyes. Says Muffinhead, "I think the photos catch what I am: a carousel of profundity and total stupidity. I hope what they ultimately do is to tell the truth."

Not that the truth ever needs to be boring. Regarding the universal allure of Buckmaster's taste for fantastical touches, Thorne says, "Perhaps we all want to step outside the realm of the mundane and soar a bit."

From An Embarrassment of Riches by Adrian Buckmaster, (c) 2015, published by Glitterati Incorporated. www.GlitteratiIncorporated.com.

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