He was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, grew up in California and then moved to New York. Christopher Makos, “the most modern photographer” according to Pop Artist Andy Warhol, was passionate about the New York art scene. However, he also loved to travel and capture the artistic life of other major European cities.
Having studied architecture in Paris and apprenticed under Man Ray, a pioneer of Surrealism and Dadaism, he developed a particular vision and aesthetic in his artwork. He says that the greatest lesson he learned from Man Ray was his admonition to “Always obey the first impression” as well as his insistence on detail, form, and light. Traveling in Europe, he spends a lot of time with Man Ray and is together at the great artist’s last birthday party in Frenege, Italy. The equally important surrealist artist Marcel Duchamp took a special interest in Christopher Makos and shared with him many practices and new methods of photographic capture.
An important milestone in his career was when he met Andy Warhol in 1977. He lived for a long time next to him and participated in the publication of the book “Andy Warhol’s Exposures” in 1979. Warhol’s book “A Personal Photographic Memoir” (New American Library, 1989) is a photographic collection that captures his travels and his strong friendship with Andy Warhol. Christopher Makos burst onto the art photography scene with his iconic 1977 book White Trash, which chronicled the punk scene in New York City interspersed with portraits of the likes of fashion designer Roy Halston and pop artist Andy Warhol.
Makos developed from the beginning a bold and innovative photographic style for his time. He was an influential figure on the contemporary art scene. He is considered by many to be responsible for introducing Andy Warhol to the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Altered Image (1981), together with the photographic material collected in Makos/Warhol (1987), is widely considered to be the most comprehensive collection of that era, a unique artistic capture and record of Warhol and his surroundings.
Christopher Makos’ artwork has been exhibited in major galleries and museums, including the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the Tate Modern in London, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Brooklyn Museum, The National Gallery in Washington, D.C., the IVAM-Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno in Valencia and the Reina Sofia in Madrid. Many of his photographs have been published in major magazines and newspapers, including Paris Match, Wall Street Journal, Interview, Rolling Stone, House and Garden, Connoisseur, New York Magazine, and People. He is the author of several important books including Warhol/Makos in Context (2007), Andy Warhol China 1982 (2007) and Christopher Makos Polaroids (2009).
In 2004 he started a new project with artist-anthropologist Paul Solberg called “The Hilton Brothers“. A strong artistic collaboration, merging two different styles, with a free approach, where they record images from their travels around the world. Their most remarkable work belong to the series, “Speed” (2006), “Andy Dandy” (2007), “Narrative” (2009) and “Conscience” (2007). They share numerous publications, such as “Mistaken Identity” (2009) and their work “Tyrants + Lederhosen” (2011). Their work has been exhibited internationally in museums and galleries such as La Casa Encendida (Madrid), Galerie Catherine Houard (Paris), Galerie Sho Contemporary Art (Tokyo), Christopher Henry Gallery (New York), Karl Hutter Fine Art (Los Angeles), and NSU Art Museum, and at the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art.
In 2019 he published the book ‘Lady WARHOL’ with 120 black and white photographs of Andy Warhol and text by Calvin Klein. This is photographic material from the year 1981 of the two artists, Makos-Warhol, from their own visual photographic experiment in a shop on 57th Avenue in New York City. Their aim at the time was to create a series of alternative portraits entitled “Altered Image“, inspired by, and referencing the artistic work of Man Ray -Marcel Duchamp as Prose Selavy.
He states that he prefers to live in the present . “I’m not sentimental, I always wanted to live in the moment, and I still do. I go where things go.” He lives as a bohemian in New York City, wandering the city and capturing its evolution through his lens.
On March 3, 2023, a photography exhibition entitled “Andy Warhol & Photography: a Social Media” opens at the Art Gallery of South Australia, Australia, featuring Christopher Makos.