In 1930 at the age of twenty-four, a young Horst moved from Germany to Paris, never to look back. From there his life and career moved at lightning speed: going from studying architecture under Le Corbusier to modelling in a photography studio and ultimately to working behind the camera himself as a photographer for Vogue in New York and Paris, all in the space of a year. It was during this breakneck rise that Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann changed his name and became the smoothly-titled Horst P. Horst.
Most easily distinguished by his bold shadows and vivid silhouettes, Horst’s fashion photography kept him at the forefront of the industry for decades. Compared to his contemporaries – most notably the other principal Vogue photographers of the 1930s, Cecil Beaton and Edward Steichen – Horst’s approach to his models was increasingly ornate and sympathetically surreal. In 1996 the NY Times captured his unique position between the worlds of high art and fashion perfectly: “Horst tamed the avant-garde to serve fashion”.
In the inter-war years, there was little distinction between his private and professional lives; between his glittering subjects and beau monde social circles that he moved in. Famous acquaintances such as Cole Porter, Noel Coward and Coco Chanel brought him into a chic reality where a handsome young gentleman with an acute eye could flourish, and flourish he did. Besides a post-WWII slump, during which fashion editorials fell out of kilter with Horst’s own aesthetic, he remained at the helm of Vogue photography for sixty years.
Not one to miss, the V&A’s Horst retrospective is a blend of his most celebrated images and some less well known photographic experimentation. Ranging from sketches to the artist’s original contact sheets, the exhibition will present facets of Horst that remained marginalised during his career, alongside the portraiture and fashion photography we know and love. Expect portraits of Hollywood stars, nudes, nature studies and even documentary pictures of the Middle East. Regardless of the subject matter, this show offers a view into the creative process of a man who knew how to capture an image with elegance and pure style.
|What||Horst: Photographer of Style, V&A|
South Kensington, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL | MAP
|Nearest tube||South Kensington (underground)|
06 Sep 14 – 04 Jan 15, 12:00 AM
|Website||Click here for more information|