Posts Tagged ‘Vanity Fair’

Photography | Steichen & Chevallier

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Marlene Dietrich, Edward Steichen, 1931
Courtesy of The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander 2012.234
Steichen/Vanity Fair ©Condé Nast

Marlène Dietrich
, Anthony Armstrong Jones, London, c 1955
Signed with the dedication ‘J’ai toujours su que tu es le plus grand mais
depuis que j’ai envahi ton métier je suis à genoux, Marlènou’
Auction estimate €200-300




Collection Maurice Chevalier
Hôtel Drouot Richelieu – Salle 5
Paris, France
Exhibition: 7th & 8th December, 2013
Sale: 9th December, 2013

Edward Steichen in the 1920s and 1930s:
A Recent Acquisition

Witney Museum of American Art
New York City, USA
Exhibition: 6th December, 2013
– 23rd February, 2014

Two very different portraits (above) of the same woman, Marlène Dietrich – the first taken in 1931 by pioneering American photographer Edward Steichen (1879-1973) – the second about twenty-four years later, c 1955, by Anthony Armstrong Jones (later, Lord Snowdon) – feature in two very different events, the first starting at the end of this week, the other taking place at the beginning of next.


Paul Robeson as the Emperor Jones, Edward Steichen, 1933
Courtesy of Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Gift of Richard and Jackie Hollander in memory of Ellyn Hollander 2012.234
Steichen/Vanity Fair ©Condé Nast


Steichen shot the beguiling and beautiful, young German-born actress/singer Dietrich, ten years into her career, exclusively for Vanity Fair magazine. It is one of approximately forty-five works, including celebrity portraits, of among others, Winston Churchill, Paul Robeson, Eugene O’Neill, and fashion photographs he created during his 1923 to 1937 stint as chief photographer for Condé Nast Publications Vanity Fair and Vogue. Together with photographs he shot for advertising campaigns, and a selection of images that illustrate Steichen’s obsession with flowers, they comprise The Witney’s exhibition Edward Steichen in the 1920s and 1930s: A Recent Acquisition.


Photographs above from top
Portrait of Maurice Chevalier, New York, Irving Penn, 1948
Auction estimate €3,000-5,000

Audrey Hepburn in religious costume
Dedicated ‘To Maurice and ‘Papa’ with love and great admiration, Audrey’
Auction estimate €150-200

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, 1946, Dorothy Welding
Signed ‘Wallis Windsor et Edward Duke of Windsor’
Auction estimate €100-150



The Snowdon picture is one of eight portraits of Dietrich, each signed with a variety of sometimes cryptic dedications, for example: ‘Pour Maurice, de sa viel(le) ami(e) Marlène’ – scrawled over a picture of her in rather masculine attire – that over the course of both their careers, she presented to French entertainer Maurice Chevalier (1888-1972). And these are just a small sample of the 547 items, including many more signed and dedicated celebrity photographs – from the likes of Charlie Chaplin, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, to Brigitte Bardot, and Elvis Presley – as well as signed and collectible books, keepsakes, his signature hats and canes, furniture, wines, rugs, pianos, and even Chevalier’s 1967 Mercedes Benz 250 S, that will go under the hammer at one of Paris’s premier auction houses, in the Collection Maurice Chevalier sale at Hôtel Drouot, on Monday.


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Photography | Ellen von Unwerth

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Ellen von Unwerth: Do Not Disturb!
Michael Hoppen Gallery, London, UK
Until 21st July, 2012
You go to D+V Management’s website. Ellen von Unwerth being European, you select the London option rather than USA. You go to Artists + Production, then to Photographers. The list is alphabetical. Few of the names mean an awful lot and at the bottom is Ellen’s. Out of idle curiosity, to see if she’s also listed under USA, you give that a go as well. This time, at the top of the list, is Ellen von Unwerth. Funnily enough, the US list is also alphabetical, but here an exception appears to be made to give prominence to one of the most talented and commercially successful fashion photographers, male or female, of the last 20+ years.

Circus performer, turned model – she modelled for 10 years – turned photographer, Von Unwerth (54) learned how to use a camera from her photographer boyfriend and – after an early shoot with a then unknown Claudia Schiffer for the jeans company Guess? that shot her to fame – quickly became sought after by magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Interview, The Face and i-D. There followed album cover work for Duran Duran, Janet Jackson and later Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, then Rhianna. Among many other celebrities von Unwerth has photographed Kate Moss, Vanessa Paradis, Lindsay Lohan, Dita von Teese, Carla Bruni, Eva Green and Monica Bellucci. Many of these appeared in Fraülein her celebration of our era’s sexiest female icons (Taschen, 2009). Ever popular with the international fashion crowd, she is listed as one of Time magazine’s 100 Fashion Icons. Her major advertising campaigns include Victoria’s Secret, Banana Republic, Lacoste, Diesel, and Chanel. Her acclaimed photo-novella Revenge (Twin Palms, 2002) was accompanied by exhibitions in New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Moscow and Beijing. She’s directed film, too, for fashion houses and made commercials for Revlon and Clinique.
Apart from the up-dating of the fashion content – and much the same could be said of the work of German-Austrian photographer Helmut Newton, who died in 2004 and with whom Frankfurt-born von Unwerth draws obvious comparisons and who she herself has cited as an influence – there is little to differentiate her current work from that which she produced at the start of her career as a photographer. In her case, that’s a good thing because in an era where the real world takes Botox and cosmetic sugery for granted and the imagined world of fashion photography is dominated by artifice – digital images are often retouched to such a degree that the models become little more than sexless avatars, posed within hyper-real environments – von Unwerth’s work remains fresh, genuine, unaffected and good fun. Undoubtedly, to a large degree, this is the result of her continuing preference for using 35mm film cameras. Indeed she was recently quoted in an interview for the online photography magazine, Faded + Blurred, as having said that digital cameras produce images with too much information, that are too sharp, and that you have to spend too much time trying to make them look good. Digital shutters, she has said, have a very slight delay, causing her to miss the shot she has in her head.

In my previous post I wrote about American photographer Ralph Gibson’s photography and described how his pictures appear to exude a close understanding of female sexuality. Von Unwerth’s images are the real deal; the playfulness, the larking around, the intimacy, the very feminine take on erotic fantasy are the result of having a woman, rather than a man, behind the camera. And the the new work doesn’t disappoint; Do Not Disturb! exhibited at London’s prestigious Michael Hoppen Gallery, narrative images shot against the décor of some of the unique and fantastical rooms at the famous Madonna Inn – located mid-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco – is executed in the signature sexy, provocative and imaginative style one expects from the female photographer at the top of my list.

Images from top
Room 77, 2012 © Ellen Von Unwerth
A recent portrait of photographer, Ellen von Unwerth
Room 1002012 © Ellen Von Unwerth
All images (except portrait) from the series Do Not Disturb!

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Photography | Hollywood & Berlin in Detail

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Hollywood in Style: a homage to the icons of film
Camera Work, Berlin, Germany. Until 4th March, 2012
Robert Polidori
CWC Gallery, Berlin, Germany. Until 21st April, 2012

Based in the well-to-do Charlottenburg area of Berlin – one of the most galleried cities in the world – Camera Work is regarded as one of the world’s top 10 photography galleries. Named after the legendary, quarterly photographic journal published in New York by Alfred Stieglitz from 1903 to 1917, the gallery opened its doors in 1997 and has a well-earned reputation for presenting the work of many photography greats: Man Ray, Irving Penn, Peter Lindbergh, Peter Beard, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus and Helmut Newton, but also for exhibiting young, up-and-coming artists.

The Kennedys archive, part of Camera Work’s permanent collection is a wide-ranging compilation of photographic work, official documents, private documents, and memorabilia of the Kennedy family. First put on show at the Camera Work building in 2004, it now has its own premises where, on the occasion of The 62nd Berlin International Film Biennale, Camera Work is exhibiting Hollywood in Style – much of the content also belonging to the gallery’s collection –  a photographic homage to the icons of film. Archive images by Edward Steichen and Horst P Horst that testify to the glamour of the screen legends of Hollywood’s Golden Age: Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly striking characteristicly elegant poses, are juxtaposed against more ballsy shots of 1950s bad boys James Dean and Marlon Brando. A sexy Sophia Lauren exemplifies the free spirit of 1960s movies; Jack Nicholson, the characterful 70s and 80s, while the distinctly sensual, provocative and style conscious stars of today: Angeline Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, Christian Bale and Johnny Depp, are captured by contemporary photographers: Nadev Kander, Annie Leibovitz and Anton Corbijn.

Emerging from the same stable, a second gallery CWC – Camera Work Contemporary, housed in a former Jewish girls’ school – opened last week in Berlin’s Mitte district, home to the city’s major internationally famous art galleries and will, alongside contemporary photography, exhibit large-scale retrospectives in painting and sculpture, as well as conceptual group exhibitions. As its debut, CWC presents Polidori, a major showing of the work – including some seen here for the first time – of the substantial oeuvre of the Canadian-born photographer, Robert Polidori, born in 1951, who lives in New York and Paris and has achieved international success via substantial photo stories in magazines such as The New Yorker, Architectural Digest, Geo and Vanity Fair. His work has been shown by numerous galleries and is also featured in the collections of several museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal and the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. Famous for the extremely high level of detail in his photographs – literally nothing is left unsharp – the selected images, which on the surface appear as straightforward architectural and urban scenes – Gallery of the Battles, Chateau de Versailles, 1985 – Unit 4 Control Room, Chernobyl, 2001 – View of Central Park from the East, New York City, 2004 – possess the unnerving quality of drawing the viewer ever further in to examine and question each detail in turn and to puzzle endlessly over their relationship to one another and to the whole.

Images from top
Jeremy Irons with Monicle, London, 1990
© Michel Comte

Michel Anguir by Jacques D’Agar, 1675. Salle la Surintendance de Colbert,
Salles du XVII, Aile du Nord – RDC, Chateau de Versailles, 1984
© Robert Polidori

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