George Hoyningen-Huene’s “Horst Torso, Paris” photograph
In the Paris of the 1920s and 1930s Huene became the archetypal urbane sophisticate of fashion photographers. Working for Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Harper’s Bazaar he made stylish location and studio portraits of artists, film stars, authors, models, and upper crust society. His celebrity studies, noted for their use of shadows, blended the artist and person to define glamour portraits. Influenced by Baron de Meyer, Man Ray, and Edward Steichen, Huene was a master of lighting whose compositions commingled Hellenic and surrealistic motifs, which set a paradigm of classical elegance in a genre later expanded by Horst P. Horst, Irving Penn, and Richard Avedon.
Huene was born in St. Petersburg, Russia at the turn of the 20th century. His father was Russian and his mother was American. The family was of Russian aristocracy and Huene was educated in art, literature, and culture. At the start of the revolution they fled the country. In the early 1920s Huene moved to Paris and began his fashion photography career. He was instrumental in developing the iconography of classic compositions for fashion photography. By 1925 he was the head fashion photographer at Vogue, and then at Harpar’s Bazaar after moving to the United States in 1935. He was the mentor and inspiration of photographer Horst P. Horst, who is a frequent model in Huene’s photographs.
Huene was instrumental in producing some of the most elegant images of the “age of glamour.” To add to his photograph collection, Huene traveled around the globe and took travel photography of his voyages. In 1946 he moved to Hollywood, California, where he taught at the Art Center School. He went on to work with the filmmaker George Cukor until his premature death in September of 1968. Horst P. Horst inherited the archives of Huene and supervised the printing out of his ouevre after Huene’s demise. He has had many important retrospective exhibitions and continues to be thought of as a legend in his time.