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Artist Biography


Matthew Russell Rolston is an American artist, photographer, and director known for his signature lighting techniques and detailed approach to art direction and design. He has been repeatedly identified throughout his career with the revival and modern expression of Hollywood glamour.

Born in Los Angeles, Rolston studied drawing and painting in his hometown at the Chouinard Art Institute and Otis College of Art & Design, as well as in the Bay Area at the San Francisco Art Institute. He also studied illustration, photography, imaging and film at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, where in 2006, he received an honorary doctorate.

While still a student at ArtCenter, Rolston was “discovered” by American artist Andy Warhol, for Warhol’s celebrity focused Interview magazine, where he began a successful career in photography.

Rolston’s photographs have been exhibited at museums and institutions. Selected group shows include Beauty CULTure (with Lauren Greenfield, Herb Ritts, Andres Serrano, and Carrie Mae Weems, 2011), The Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles, California; The Warhol Look: Glamour, Style, Fashion (curated by Mark Francis and Margery King), The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1997); and Fashion and Surrealism, FIT Gallery, New York, 1987 (traveled to the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK, 1988).

Rolston’s works are in the permanent collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, NY, and the National Portrait Gallery (Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at The Smithsonian, Washington D.C.) among others.


ROLSTON HAS BEEN THE SUBJECT of numerous institutional and gallery exhibitions throughout the United States and internationally, which have led to a series of publications authored by the artist. Rolston has shown work at institutions including The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA; Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles, CA; Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK; Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC; Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK; and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.

Rolston has exhibited at galleries including CAMERA WORK, Berlin, DE; Diane Rosenstein Fine Art, Los Angeles, CA; Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles, CA and Ralph Pucci International, Los Angeles, CA.


Five monographs have been published of Rolston’s work:

Big Pictures: A Book of Photographs (1991) is a collection of early photographs published by Bulfinch Press, New York.

beautyLIGHT: Pictures at a Magazine (2008) is a survey drawn from twenty years of Rolston’s celebrity portrait photographs published by teNeues, Germany.

Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits (2012) is a concept project centering on portraits of ventriloquial figures, published by Pointed Leaf Press, New York.

Hollywood Royale: Out of the School of Los Angeles (2017) is a retrospective of Rolston’s celebrity photography in the 1980s, published by teNeues, Germany.

Matthew Rolston, Art People: The Pageant Portraits (2021) is the exhibition catalogue published by Laguna Art Museum.