Iconic Fashion Photography Now on Display at the Getty Center

In What's New, Industry News by Lauren Parker, Accessories Magazine

Tim Walker (British, born 1970), The Dress-Lamp Tree, England 2002, 2002, British, Chromogenic print, Image: 148.2 × 125.2 cm (58 3/8 × 49 5/16 in.), ©Tim Walker, Courtesy of Steven and Catherine Fink www.thomastreuhaft.com

Taking time off this holiday week? Make time for some fashion photography, and not by flipping through a magazine on the beach.

“Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, 1911-2011,” just opened at the Getty Center in Los Angeles and features 160 photographs, costumes, illustrations, magazine covers and ads. The show runs through October 21.

Renée, “The New Look of Dior,” Place de la Concorde, Paris, August, 1947, negative 1947, print 1978; Richard Avedon, gelatin silver print. The Richard Avedon Foundation, New York. Copyright © The Richard Avedon Foundation

“Once overlooked by collectors and museums because of its commercial origins, fashion photography is now recognized as having produced some of the most creative work of the twentieth century, transcending its illustrative function to yield images of great artistic quality and sophistication,” says Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum. “Museums, however, have been slow to embrace this genre. The time seems ripe to present a sweeping overview of the finest examples of fashion photography produced over the past century.”

Kate Moss, Times Square, New York, negative 1994, print 2017; Glen Luchford, gelatin silver print. The J. Paul Getty Museum. Gift of Glen and Tanya Luchford. © Glen Luchford

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.

Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography, 1911-2011

Yohji Yamamoto, Autumn/Winter 1995 (detail), 1995, David Sims, chromogenic print. Courtesy of and © David Sims

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.

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