American photographer Christopher Makos' previous trip to Russia was 10 years ago when he flew in on Calvin Klein's private jet along with the designer and a suitcase of underwear that the designer gave away.
This time, the photographer — known for his work with Andy Warhol — flew in with his photographic partner Paul Solberg for two talks in Moscow and St. Petersburg last month.
Makos took photos of Warhol in the 1970s and 1980s and the pop art genius was the main subject of the talks at the Strelka Institute with Alyona Doletskaya, the former Vogue editor who is now in charge of Interview Russia, a version of the magazine founded by Warhol.
"I know you are here because of my Andy Warhol connection, but I'm so into the moment," said Makos at the talk.
Currently, Makos and Solberg use the name The Hilton Brothers for their photo partnership. The pair met in 2004 and started working together on trips abroad. Their work, such as in their most recent book "Tyrants and Lederhosen," is often made of diptychs, with the different photographers' shots in juxtaposition to each other.
He joked with the audience, telling one young man that to succeed as an artist in New York he would have to "wear tighter shirts," and urging the entire crowd to immediately begin collaborating with the people next to them.
"One of the reasons I thought it would be interesting to be part of the Hilton Brothers with Paul is because for quite a while I was so associated with the Warhol thing. And I wanted to sort of disappear and be somebody else," said Makos, although he still uses Warhol images in his Hilton Brothers work too.
In the series "Andy Dandy," Makos' photographs of Andy Warhol in various wigs are shown side by side in one work with Solberg's flower photographs.
The photos were taken in 1981 and Warhold is supposed to have said: "I'm not trying to look beautiful like Elizabeth Taylor, I'm trying to show what it feels like to be beautiful like Elizabeth Taylor."
Makos and Solberg have traveled to China, Italy, Jordan, Spain, Sweden, and Vietnam working as a duo, or as Makos says, a "photographic anthropologist."
"Eighty percent of the time we have a similar thought about either the shape, the form, or the comment it makes. … There's no recipe. It's just intuitive," Solberg said. "Right now, there obviously is no Factory anymore. We are two people instead of one as Andy Warhol was, but it's sort of a modern-day Factory, an idea about collaboration, mixing ideas, and merging ideas into one."