Magazine of art press and reviews from London
David Franchi – Monday, 16th May 2016.
The Vogue exhibition is extraordinary, at the National Portrait Gallery, London.
To mark the 100 years of the British Vogue foundation, the National Portrait Gallery organised in London an exhibition of an outstanding variety of photography that has been commissioned by the well known magazine.
For the first time, the exhibition “Vogue 100: A Century of Style” showcases at the National Portrait Gallery, London, over 280 prints from the Condé Nast archive and international collections, presenting the story of one of the most influential fashion magazines in the world.
The exhibition is a nice innovation for the London museum, because it has a new set- up approach for the National Portrait Gallery, full of colours and glittering lights, also reflecting the proper Vogue style.
In a chronological order, “Vogue 100: A Century of Style” spans from the foundation to the present days. British Vogue was founded in 1916, when the First World War made transatlantic shipments of American Vogue impracticable. Therefore, the proprietor, Condé Nast, allowed a British edition, which was an immediate success. During its centennial long life the magazine never failed to be a worldwide point of reference for fashion and culture – the austerity and optimism after the two world wars, the ‘Swinging London’ during the 1960s, the drastic seventies and the image-conscious eighties. Nowadays, Vogue is a still at the cutting edge of photography and design.
To welcome visitors, the entrance to the “Vogue 100: A Century of Style” show presents a corridor with prismatic
plinths – displaying a selection of the front covers of Vogue. It brings to a room, where walls are covered by video installation dedicated to the latest trendy models and fashion.
In the other corridors of the National Portrait Gallery exhibition, the walls of are covered with large photo prints. Vogue has hosted works for the best photographers, who captured the most famous models in set and clothes and make up from the most renowned designers.
“Vogue 100: A Century of Style” presents works by many of the leading twentieth-century photographers, including Cecil Beaton, Lee Miller, Irving Penn, Snowdon, David Bailey, Corinne Day, Patrick Demarchelier, Nick Knight, Herb Ritts, Mario Testino, Tim Walker and Albert Watson.
The exhibition also includes photos of many personalities that have enhanced the cultural environment of the twentieth century, from Henri Matisse to Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Damien Hirst, Marlene Dietrich and Gwyneth Paltrow, Lady Diana Cooper to Lady Diana Spencer, and Fred Astaire to David Beckham, together with fashion designers such as Dior, Saint Laurent and McQueen.
As photography was less used in magazines during the 1920s and 1930s, there are many illustrator and drawer works on show.
An entire room presents items from the vogue library in chronological order- usually
it is hosted in the basement of the Vogue House in West End London. On display one original copy form each year of Vogue existence.
There is an interesting installation with the entire Vogue chronology written on a tape measure style and topped by a selection of magazine covers.
Highlights of the exhibition include rarely seen photographs of the Beatles and Jude Law, for the first time showcased in a gallery since they were taken.
Diana Vreeland at American Vogue commissioned the Beatles portrait by the young British Vogue staff photographer Peter Laurie in 1964. The idea was suggested to Vreeland by her British assistant art director, Nicholas Haslam, who was send off to Northampton to photograph The Beatles after a concert. The Beatles portrait has remained unpublished in Vogue’s archives until now.
Albert Watson photographed the then 23 year old Jude Law, along with other British actors and directors, at a studio in London for the March 1996 edition of British Vogue. The 20-page special, ‘Vogue’s film star salute: celebrating 100 years of British film’, was a tribute to British cinema and featured new photographic portraits of eminent 1990s British actors, directors, scriptwriters and producers. The Jude Law image was published in British Vogue in 1996, but has not since been shown in a gallery or museum.
Other highlights of the National Portrait Gallery include exhibition the controversial full set of prints of the Kate Moss underwear shoot by Corinne Day, taken in 1993 at the pinnacle of the ‘grunge’ trend; Peter Lindbergh’s famous 1990 cover shot that defined the supermodel era; a series of exceptional Second World War photographs by Vogue’s official war correspondent, Lee Miller; a rare version of Horst’s famous ‘corset’ photograph from 1939, which inspired the video for Madonna’s hit song Vogue; and vintage prints by the first professional fashion photographer, Baron de Meyer.
Theatre and opera set designer Patrick Kinmonth is the Exhibition Designer & Artistic Director for the show, taking visitors on an immersive and imaginative journey through the greatest moments in the history of British Vogue.
The exhibition is curated by Robin Muir who is a Contributing Editor to British Vogue. He has arranged many exhibitions over the last twenty years focusing on fashion and portrait photography, including Under the Influence: John Deakin and the Lure of Soho at the Photographers’ Gallery (2014), Unseen Vogue: The Secret History of Fashion Photography at the Design Museum (2002) and Snowdon: A Retrospective at the National Portrait Gallery (2000). Muir has also curated major
exhibitions for the V&A, the Museum of London, and the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven. His books include ‘People in Vogue: A Century of Portraits’ (2003) and ‘Vogue Model’ (2010).
Vogue 100: A Century of Style has been organised by the National Portrait Gallery in collaboration with British
Vogue as part of the magazine’s centenary celebrations. It is sponsored by Leon Max.
The exhibition “Vogue 100: A Century of Style” is ongoing at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from 11th February until 22nd May 2016.