FASHIONABLE COLLABORATIONS: PHOTOGRAPHER AS DIRECTOR
Photographers have historically been instrumental in giving visual form for expressing and creating the allure of great fashion. Some of the most prominent names in the history of the medium have worked in collaboration with great designers, models and fashion houses to present often dreamlike narratives in which the viewers feel they are brought into an elevated world where culture, desire and refinement are idealized.
The photographers featured in this exhibition, “Fashionable Collaborations,” are Albert Watson, Brian Duffy, Arthur Elgort, Horst. P Horst, Frank Horvat, Jim Lee, Cathleen Naundorf, and Kimiko Yoshida. Each of these photographers have developed different strategies to construct extraordinary images that are both unique artistic statements as well as methods to showcase great fashion designs. More importantly, none of these photographers work in isolation – they are reliant on physical products that were produced for commerce by creative designers. How these photographers place their own unique imprint onto their collective bodies of work are always original and vary from artist to artist. This show acknowledges an ‘auteur’ theory of fashion photography in which all the photographers have made important contributions to the world of fashion photography.
Horst acts as the foundation photographer in this exhibition. He created quiet, elegant and refined statements that were produced in the studio with a studied controlled mastery of the large format camera, sheet film, complex lighting and long exposures.
Horvat, Lee, and Duffy were all innovative trailblazers in their own innovative ways. They reacted against the formulaic and more traditional methods of static picture making. They thrust their models into the unpredictable dynamics of everyday life. Often, the cameras used were 35 mm. Natural daylight and elliptical framing also became effective tools for making arresting images.
Naundorf and Watson have taken a consciously artistic approach to making fine art photographs. They often use the ‘artist as muse’ where the sitter is of significance and fascination. They have both made extensive use of interesting and original sets and objects. Watson sometimes creates stunning images in which the model is muse, and other times the designers are celebrated as artists and the clothing takes on a life and form of its own. Watson’s range as a photographer is very wide and his work is difficult to categorize. Naundorf often constructs an almost timeless nostalgia, centering around designer’s one-of-a-kind creations, where there is a ‘Proustian’ atmosphere surrounding the work.
Finally, Yoshida’s photographs always center around self-portraits. However, they are self-portraits where she loses her identity. Her work often uses clothing items, or semi-precious objects crossing divergent cultures and time in building references for an ever-shifting identity.
In “Fashionable Collaborations” photographs have been selected that are often constructed with art historical references. Even though these photographers never lose their individual voices or their creative search for effective and artistic image making, they fully acknowledge the collaborative process of finding inspiration and references from the larger world of culture and design.