A must-see this summer for fashionistas and photography lovers is the photography exhibition Edward Steichen, In High Fashion – the Condé Nast Years 1923-1937. The exhibition runs until Sptember 6, 2013 in the Foam museum in Amsterdam. The exhibition, boasts more than 200 unique vintage photos, representing Steichen heydays as a fashion photographer. The works that he made throughout this period for Vogue and Vanity Fair magazine are some of the most impressive creations of the twentieth century and set the standard for fashion photography as we know it today. He photographed the jetsetters scene, celebrities and models of his time in ways never seen before.
I was already mesmerized by his work when I visited the Unseen international photography fair last year where some of his work was also included in the exhibition Fashion! Photographs from the Camera Work Collection. And I also learnt more about him in the dvd of Diana Vreeland, the eye has to travel.
At the exhibition I bought a lovely booklet written by Bregje Lamp describing the life and work of Steichen. On the first page it says: “His fashion photos show not only fashion’s development, but his oeuvre captures women’s emancipation. He laid the foundations for fashion and celebrity photography. Steichen’s photos show how the ‘weaker sex’ slowly became aware of her strengths and thanks to her prosperity, was in a position to buy clothes that suited her taste.”
Steichen was a pioneer in his field because he photographed couture and fashion in a way that it conveyed emotion and atmosphere, and ignited consumer lust without showing the whole dress. Steichen was at the forefront of the transition of illustrations to photos in magazines. He was a painter foremost, although it didn’t bring him the success photography did.