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The Getty Center is recognizing the high-gloss lifestyle as depicted in fashion magazines among its finest works of art.
On Wednesday, The J. Paul Getty Museum announced the upcoming exhibition “Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, 1911-2011,” which will showcase 160 fashion photographs taken over the course of 100 years. Called “the most comprehensive exploration” of this subject, the collection — along with loaned items — also includes costumes, illustrations, magazine covers, videos and ads. It runs June 26 to Oct. 21.
“Once overlooked by collectors and museums because of its commercial origins, fashion photography is now recognized as having produced some of the most creative work of the 20th century, transcending its illustrative function to yield images of great artistic quality and sophistication,” said Getty director Timothy Potts in a statement. “Museums, however, have been slow to embrace this genre. The time seems ripe to present a sweeping overview of the finest examples of fashion photography.”
The exhibition celebrates the cultural impact of such fashion shoots and studies how they’ve shaped the notions of beauty, as the photos were designed to help advertise products and attract lustful eyes.
In 2010, the museum began to seek out fashion photographs to create the backbone of the exhibition, said its curator, Paul Martineau. More than 80 photographers’ works will be on display, including Richard Avedon, Lillian Bassman, Guy Bourdin, Erwin Blumenfeld, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Inez & Vinoodh, Peter Lindbergh, Man Ray, Helmut Newton, Nick Knight, Gordon Parks, Irving Penn, Herb Ritts, Edward Steichen and Tim Walker.
By 2012, The Hollywood Reporter wrote the Getty had established its reputation for fashion photographs. That year, the museum acquired 14 pieces by Hiro taken for Harper’s Bazaar, French Vogue and Mirabella from 1960 to 1990, which are likely to be included in the “Icons of Style” exhibit.
“Icons of Style” opens with a pivotal moment, when French publisher Lucien Vogel challenged photographer Steichen to make his fashion photos artistic, instead of realistic, for the first time. The display will also touch on the escapism of the Great Depression, the 1950s Golden Age glamour, the sexual revolution of the 1970s and the ‘90s fitness trend, along with darker, grunge motifs. Among those showcased: Diana Newman (1966) by Neal Barr, Yohji Yamamoto Autumn/Winter 1995 (1995) by Davis Sims and Style Profile, Ni’Ma Ford, December 22, 2011 (2011) by Scott Schuman.
Eight years in the making, “Icons of Style” comes just one year after the Museum of Modern Art opened its first fashion exhibition in 73 years, “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” The 2017 gallery featured items that changed the world, from Yves Saint Laurent’s Le Smoking and Alexander McQueen’s Armadillo platform heels to Converse All-Stars and Lululemon yoga pants.
The Getty’s free exhibition will be located in its West Pavilion. An accompanying book with 300 photographs is available for pre-order for $65.
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