Unseen international photography fair

Yesterday I went to Unseen, the first edition of  an international photography fair in Amsterdam’s Westergas Fabriek exhibiting work from 50 international galleries. Unseen, which is open to the public until 23 September, is an initiative to showcase contemporary photography and to give young talent a platform they deserve. The exhibition shows unseen work from emerging talent as well as renowned pictures from established artists. The fair has a festival flair because it also appeals to ‘first-time-buyers’ by selling 80 works under €1000. There’s an outdoor exhibition on billboards selected by FOAM magazine, daily films, lectures, a photobooks fair, and evening parties with deejays.

However, I decided to visit the fair to see a particular exhibition: Fashion! Photographs from the Camera Work Collection.

© Horst P.Horst – Carmen Face Massage – New York, 1946
Courtesy Camera Work Gallery, Berlin

The Fashion! exhibition is a special selection of 180 photos compiled from the collection of Camera Work. Camera Work owns one of the world’s largest collections of photographic works and books. The works on display survey nine decades of fashion photography and vary from Edward Steichen’s classical compositions, the experimental work of Man Ray and the controversial photos of Helmut Newton to the contemporary fashion photography of Steven Klei.

Fashion photography is often considered commercial and lacking artistic value. On the contrary, fashion reveals the prevailing ideals of beauty and is more than any other discipline able to document the spirit of its time: it shows in a vivid and accessible way the dreams and aspirations of past generations. The way models are depicted provides a glimpse or their roles, temptations, and society as a whole. This was very much visible. (scroll down to the bottom to read the official prelude to the exhibition)

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