Friday, 2 May 2014

Photography's alchemist

"It is hard to overstate his influence really. Every subsequent generation of photographers – not just fashion – have looked to him for inspiration."
This autumn the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) will present the definitive retrospective of the work of Horst P. Horst (1906-99), one of the 20th century’s master photographers. In a career that spanned six decades, Horst photographed the exquisite creations of couturiers such as Chanel, Schiaparelli and Vionnet in 1930s Paris, and helped to launch the careers of many models. In New York a decade later, he experimented with early colour techniques and his meticulously composed, artfully lit images leapt from the magazine page.

The exhibition will display Horst’s best known photographs alongside unpublished and rarely exhibited vintage prints, conveying the diversity of his output, from surreal still lifes to portraits of Hollywood stars, nudes and nature studies to documentary pictures of the Middle East. It will examine his creative process through the inclusion of original contact sheets, sketches and archive film footage.

Described by Vogue as "photography's alchemist", Horst P. Horst was one of the foremost photographers of the 20th century, and - along with the likes of Steichen and Beaton - created many of fashion's most iconic images.

Lover of George Hoyningen-Huene and Luchino Visconti, one of the great aesthetes of the Parisian demi-monde as well as an "in-demand" society portraitist, he counted among his friends such magnificent creatures as Elsa Schiaparelli, Noel Coward, Diana Vreeland, Jean Cocteau, Cole Porter and Coco Chanel.

He met British diplomat Valentine Lawford in 1938 and they lived together as a couple until Lawford's death in 1991. They adopted and raised a son, Richard J. Horst, together.

Horst P. Horst died at his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, at 93 years of age (in November 1999).

Horst: Photographer of Style will be at the V&A from 6th September 2014 to 4th January 2015.

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