UNION PACIFIC is pleased to present Norm Clasen: The Iconic Cowboy, a survey of the Marlboro Man and the American West. The exhibition will feature multiple images taken during Clasen’s 15-year career (1978 -1991) as a principal photographer for the Marlboro campaign. The Iconic Cowboy offers the first look at this imagery outside of the United States. We are delighted that Norm will be in attendance at the opening.
In 1978, Norm Clasen took on the mantle of capturing and crafting the Marlboro Man. No one could have predicted the cultural influence of his photographs, or how decades later they would provide truth and insight to a way of life that is still elusive to most. To capture his iconic images of cowboys in their element, Clasen ate, drank, and rode with the men, earning their respect and trust. They allowed him to photograph them in the most epic moments that defined them all. Every image was well thought out, sometimes dangerous to choreograph, and Clasen’s patience to wait for exquisite light and genuine moments were a testament to his artistic abilities. Clasen would go on to spend the next fifteen years of his life as a principal photographer for the Marlboro campaign where his photographs helped shape a visual lexicon that is integral to the iconography of the American West. His authentic and natural point of view guided the campaign to its zenith, with his work appearing in newspapers, magazines, and billboards across the world.
There has been much controversy around Clasen’s work, which has been appropriated and stolen repeatedly. To this day some of his photographs taken from published advertising hang in world renowned museums with false claims of ownership. It has been a journey to correct this false and unauthenticated story. Since the debut solo show in 2018 at M+B Gallery in Los Angeles, Norm Clasen: Titled (Cowboy), numerous works by Clasen have now sold out to collectors throughout the world. The collection today is seen as historical evidence of the spirit of the real American Cowboy. Clasen has spent his lifetime looking at the world through his heart and mind which is why his work speaks to us all one frame at a time.