Friday, March 5, 2010
The Photographer of Vogue´s golden years.
Images of actresses and models in fashion's finest clothing, many of them looking straight into the camera under dramatic lighting: This is the Edward Steichen of the early 20th century.
Steichen, one of the world's most influential photographers, is the subject of an exhibit that has come to the U.S. after tours in Europe and Canada. "Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, the Conde Nast years, 1923-1937," started last week at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale and runs through April 11.
More than 200 of Steichen's celebrity and fashion photos from his years as chief photographer for "Vogue" and "Vanity Fair" magazines are on display. The magazines were published by Conde Nast.
"One of the great things about Steichen when you go through the show, it's as if all the women in those images were all born in those clothes," said one of the curators, William Ewing, director of the Musee de l'Elysee in Lausanne, Switzerland. "Today nobody looks at a Kate Moss picture and believes she lives in those clothes. There is no credibility to the contemporary fashion photograph. Perhaps that's the aim."
Many of the black-and-white photographs are of celebrities of the day including Gary Cooper, Adele and Fred Astaire, Katherine Hepburn, Greta Garbo and Amelia Earhart.Steichen, who was born in Luxembourg and came to the U.S. with his parents when he was an infant, had become a successful painter and photographer by the time he was offered the position as chief photographer for Conde Nast's two magazines. He worked there 15 years, until 1937.
At age 66, he became director of photography for the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he put on the famous "The Family of Man," show in 1955 and more than 40 other exhibitions. He died in 1973.
"He is one the most important figures in fashion photography," Squiers said. "He really starts to work with the models in terms of trying to portray the modern woman, someone who is forthright." That approach, she said, has influenced contemporary photographers as well.
"He revolutionized fashion photography and pioneered a new visual language of glamour, profoundly shaping the look of celebrity and fashion to this day," said Irvin Lippman, executive director at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale.