Fashion is ephemeral, art is eternal. —Oscar Wilde
Why do some fashion photographs transcend their commercial character to function as works of art, while others do not? In part, the answer lies in the ability of a fashion photograph to reflect two or more worlds: the perfect world inside the frame—where youth, beauty, and luxury reign supreme—and the harsh realities of the world outside it. The best fashion photographs remind us of other works of art or expand the boundaries of the genre, redefining what a fashion photograph is supposed to do, or be.
Beginning with 1911—the year Edward Steichen created the first “artistic” fashion photographs—and ending with 2011 with digital technology as a dominant paradigm, this exhibition surveys the rich and varied history of modern fashion photography. The show traces its trajectory from niche industry to powerful cultural force, and its gradual embrace as an art form.
Generously supported by Arlene Schnitzer and Jordan Schnitzer.