In Pictures: Fashion photographer Horst
- 4 September 2014
- From the section Entertainment & Arts
An exhibition celebrating the 60-year career of one of the leading fashion and portrait photographers of the 20th Century, Horst P Horst, opens at the V&A museum in London this week.
His pictures graced the pages and covers of Vogue, Harpers and Queen and House and Garden from the 1930s onwards and he received the Master of Photography award in 1996.
Horst died in Palm Beach, Florida in 1999, aged 93.
The collection of over 250 photographs ranges from the Vogue covers he shot to photographs he took on a trip to the Middle East. Muriel Maxwell was one of his favourite models and this shot, from the cover of American Vogue, dates from July 1939.
During his career, Horst took portraits of artists, writers, presidents and royalty. In the 1930s he captured some of Hollywood's brightest and most glamorous new stars including Rita Hayworth, Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh, Noel Coward, Ginger Rogers, Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford. This picture of his friend and collaborator Dietrich was taken in New York in 1942.
Horst became one of the first photographers to perfect the new colour techniques of the 1930s and he went on to create more than 90 Vogue covers and countless pages in vivid colour.
The exhibition explores Horst's collaborations and friendships with leading couturiers such as Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli in Paris and artists such as Salvador Dalí, whose costumes for the ballet Bacchanale appear in the photo above on the right. Round the Clock (left) was taken in New York in 1987.
This shot was the inspiration for Madonna's 1990 music video for her song Vogue and the Mainbocher Corset taken in 1939 is one of Horst's most famous photographs. Decades after the photograph was made, Main Bocher himself expressed his admiration for Horst's virtuosity, writing, "Your photographs are sheer genius and delight my soul… each one is perfect by itself."
After the war in 1945 Horst took a departure from fashion photography to work on a new kind of project, Patterns from Nature. The close up black and white photographs of flowers, minerals, shells and butterfly wings will be exhibited alongside kaleidoscopic collages arranging the photos in repeat. The intention was that they could be used as designs for textiles, wallpaper, carpets, plastics and glass.
This photo shows Horst directing a fashion shoot with Lisa Fonssagrives in 1949. She was one of his first muses and he helped to launch her modelling career in 1936. During the 1940s Horst worked primarily in the Conde Nast studio on the 19th floor of the Graybar Building, an Art Deco skyscraper on Manhattan's Lexington Avenue.
This shot from 1947 features a dinner suit and headdress designed by his friend Elsa Schiaparelli. The creative process behind many of his pictures will be revealed by original contact sheets, sketches and cameras. The exhibition will also feature some never-before-seen footage of what life was like working in fashion publishing from late 1946 to early 1947.
Horst's travel photographs from the Middle East will also be on show, like this view of ruins at the palace of Persepolis (below), which had only recently been uncovered when he took the shot in 1949. He'd been travelling with his partner Valentine Lawford, who was the political counsellor at the British Embassy in Tehran.
After seeing them Harper's Bazaar editor Diana Vreeland told Horst in a letter: "They are the most exciting and thrilling things that any of us have had to look at for years and years and years!". When she joined American Vogue in the 1960s she commissioned him to do a series on homes and gardens of the famous - from Jackie Onassis to Karl Lagerfeld.
Much of the huge collection of prints, drawings, notebooks, scrapbooks and letters that Horst carefully preserved throughout his life will be on display, alongside prints from the Conde Nast archives, such as this American Vogue cover from May 1941. Horst continued taking photographs until failing eyesight finally forced him to stop working in 1992.
Horst: Photographer of Style runs from 6 September 2014 - 4 January 2015 at the V&A. For more information, visit www.vam.ac.uk/horst