Monday, 28 October 2013

Edward Steichen and Art Deco Fashion at the NGV.

The NGV is currently hosting an exhibition of photographer Edward Steichen's work. This man was phenomenon of photography He studied, learnt and experimented with every aspect of the craft and was tireless in his pursuit of perfection. He was an artist and yet, interestingly he also took work doing fashion photography and celebrity portraits for Vogue and Vanity Fair setting a precedent for artists such as Annie Leibovitz and Mario Testino.
Such was the stigma at the time that the magazines he worked for offered to publish his photo's unsigned so as not to damage his image as an artist. But Steichen was just as proud of his magazine work as any other image he produced and insisted he be named as the image's creator. He worked with many of the most beautiful and famous people of the time and dressed them in the most beautiful clothes and created the most arresting images.
The exhibition itself has been cleverly assembled to showcase Steichen's photography as well as offering visitors examples of the couture from within the images. The two work harmoniously to take the viewer around the exhibition although, the contrast of the black and white images and the brightly coloured clothes is almost too strong at times.
The insight given on the plaques are well worth taking the time to read. Here are some of my favourites from my visit.
'In 1928, Vogue likened Chanel's little black dress to the Model T Ford. Both were reflective of an approach to design and living that focused on speed, efficiency and elegance.'

'This is the key to modern fashion photography. The fashion showed very clearly but the picture offered something far more important: an image of a woman at her most attractive moment.'

'To compliment her new lifestyle and activities the modern woman required a whole new wardrobe.'

'...confident, emancipated and stylish - the epitome of the Vogue reader.'

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