My Thoughts On The Vogue 100 Exhibition

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As a part of my final requirement this term we have been set to visit and review a photography exhibition. A month ago I saw an advertisement for Vogue 100 at the  National Portrait Gallery and was instantly curious as I had previously visited the Chanel Mademoiselle Privé exhibition at the Saatchi gallery and fallen in love. I instantly thought that these galleries would be similar in their approach to curation and the way that they intended to showcase their journey. This post is therefore going to share some reflections of how the company was represented through exhibition.

There is no denying that vogue is the most successful fashion magazine and organisation to grace the earth. Hudson described Vogue’s photography as “turning fashion photography from a relatively simple technical process into an art form of almost limitless possibilities. Thanks (or perhaps no thanks) to Vogue, photography has become intrinsic to the way we appreciate and consume clothes, to the extent that people are often now buying the idea behind the photograph, rather than the garment in their hands”.

The influence that vogue has had on fashion photography as a whole is remarkable and has been a personal inspiration behind some of my personal work. Therefore I was utterly disappointed to see that the exhibition did not do the photography justice. This was mainly down to the way that the exhibition was laid out. Firstly as you entered into the space you were confronted by a massive projection giving you a first glimpse as what was to come. This featured video work and behind the scene footage which was actually an inspired way to start the journey. However after this there was no direction as to how to proceed, so much so that I had to ask the member of staff. For an exhibition which is celebrating the 100 years of a magazine you would imagine that the photographs would be organised chronologically so you could appreciate the progression of the magazine through the ages. However my friend and I found ourselves walking all the way down through each decade along the corridor to reach the start. This somewhat spoilt the experience as we therefore had an idea of what was to come and there was no element of surprise or awe. The curator Robin Muir designed the exhibition to allow people to travel back in time through the work, however personally I would have wanted this to be explained right at the beginning of the exhibition as then we wouldn’t have experienced confusion which distracted from the beautiful photography.

The décor in each room was undoubtedly  beautiful and allowed the viewer to become part of that decade and therefore see the work in a new light. My favourite was the 1940’s room in which the walls were polished red. This room felt intimate and luxurious and was intended to show off the ‘new look’ after the war time restrictions. It is necessary to note that the photographer’s credits were for the most part missing from the wall. I imagine that this is because Muir wanted the walls to minimalist and for the viewer to have their own opinions about the work before being told facts about the image. Nonetheless for someone like myself who is interested in following some wider reading on the subject it was rather unclear.

I understand this review is becoming rather negative (which is not normally my style) therefore I am going to highlight some of the aspects which I thoroughly enjoyed. Firstly the choice of photography was spectacular. I felt that the beauty which was depicted in the visuals WAS something to be celebrated, taking you into a world beyond the boundaries of the frame. By engaging with the photography on display it is easy to understand that vogue is a magazine which is not just a fashion bible but is a brand which influences our British culture. Each image carries an untouchable lifestyle aspiration in which the viewer is longing to achieve.

Please find below the three images which stood out beyond others and have made a lasting impression. These are the photographs which fought beyond the distracting layout of the gallery, restoring some of my faith in the exhibition. My personal advice to anyone who is interested in the exhibition is to go along and experience the diverse and gorgeous photography. However do not expect this to be anything more than a simple exhibition, there is hardly any interaction or innovative displays, a celebration for fashion photography not for art curation.

 

Patrick Demarchlier (1987) Vogue cover December 1987

Tim Walker(2009) Alexander Mcqueen

Norman Parkinson (1956) ANNE GUNNING OUTSIDE THE CITY PALACE

 

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Mark Hudson (2016) Vogue 100: A Century of Style, National Portrait Gallery, review: ‘leaves you reeling’ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/art/what-to-see/vogue-100-a-century-of-style-national-portrait-gallery-review-l / (29/02/16)

 

Norman Parkinson (1956) ANNE GUNNING OUTSIDE THE CITY PALACE

(http://www.normanparkinson.com/archive/anne-gunning-outside-city-palace-jaipur-india-vogu/ (29/02/16)

 

Patrick Demarchlier (1987) Vogue cover December 1987  http://www.vogue.co.uk/magazine/archive/issue/1987/December (29/02/16)

 

Tim Walker(2009) Alexander Mcqueen http://www.vogue.co.uk/news/2015/01/23/alexander-mcqueen-savage-beauty-exhibition-more-dates-extra-tickets (29/02/16)

 

Time Walker (2009) Alexander Mcqueen http://www.timwalkerphotography.com/portraits (29/02/16)

 

Darkroom Composition Experiments 

Darkroom photograms are one of the best ways to work freely and create a large amount of experimental work quickly! I was looking for a way to become more creative with my compositions and start overlaying my separate visual work together as one. I find that by printing my work onto acetate I can move elements around into the perfect place and really start to get to grips with the fundamental design principles (i.e repetition and clustering of imagery). The quality which I admire the most about photograms is the fact that you can never really predict what will be created and each image will never be the same as the last. All these little imperfections and ‘happy mistakes’ are what give the images more character than a traditional pen and ink illustration.


  
  
  
  
  

Continuing With ‘Wake Up Call’…

As a starting point to creating my own visuals I am using my photographs that I took from my trips around Oxford Street and Chelsea. I started off on the Fulham Road with Colefax and Fowler (an interior design company who I have done some work for before) and then wondered through to the Kings Road and the Saatchi Gallery. Chelsea is such a beautiful ornate place with lots of small beauties on the streets which are taken for granted. For example I loved the way that each house is slightly different and part of the owners personalities shine through. Therefore it only seems fitting to create my compositions out of each of the interesting objects and details that I obsess over.

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I illustrated each photograph in my normal style with pen and ink on cartridge paper. I always find that I want to create interesting compositional work and be experimental with my style but this is so hard to do when you are at home and the facilities are obviously limited. Therefore I printed all of my visuals onto acetate so as I could overlay them and create repeats. I planned just to use these in the darkroom to create photogram’s however this always creates a negative image because the blocked areas from the light sensitive paper is the area which stays white. Therefore I decided to experiment with my photocopier at home creating some arrangements and seeing which illustrations complimented each other. I feel that these designs embody the hidden details from such iconic areas and hopefully reflect on the lifestyle with a little bit of a twist.

Stay tune for my dark room experiments!

Gathering Inspiration On Oxford Street

Wake Up Call is a new project I have been working on, and it all about professionalism and finding who we want to be as a practitioner. Therefore there are boundaries to what we can produce, the real question is, where do I start?

My work so far hasn’t branched further than paper surfaces, therefore I want to brake this habit and start making something more practical which is more than just an image. How I plan to do this is by creating my own clothing line with illustrations within the designs. I am always drawn to patterns and bold graphic designs within fashion, and here I have the opportunity to but my passion into my own work.

I have thrown around a few ideas of subject matter and contacted companies such a Pocket London to enquire about their inspirations for their clothing. My main thought at the moment is to have a series of designs based on the finer details of the London shopping districts. I want the imagery to feature small beautiful details which get lost in the surroundings and crowds of people. For example, when was the last time you looked at the architecture above the high-street shops on oxford street? There are some beautiful and traditional stonework which are never noticed due to the bright lights of the contemporary stores.

Window shopping in Selfridges is also an amazing way to get inspired and motivated. The creativity of the designers they represent is just outstanding, especially in the denim suite. Some of my favourite brands were Widfox, Forte Couture, Etre Cecile, Au Jar Le Jour and Kuccica-check them all out you will be amazed! These designers all have elements of illustration within their work and I intend to combine the bright colours, icons, slogans and pattern into my own visuals. I also visited Urban Outiftters and Topshop expecting some ideas to come to me, however I was completely disappointed after my trip to Selfridges. I think this is because Selfridges is obviously high fashion and full of designers which strive to create unique looks which do not have to fit the needs of the general public. Although some of Topshop’s collection (especially the brands in the basement) are quirky and interesting visually, these are copies from the brands shown in Selfridges. It is best to get inspiration from the leaders in fashion design , rather than the toned down versions we see in normal high-street shops.

Please see my next post for my inspiration photographs.

 

 

Jeanne Dunning, The Blob 4 (1999)

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“Jeanne Dunning maps out a reflection on the relationship to the female body that, instead of questioning the domain of appearances, is rooted in the deconstruction of the relationship to the flesh.” (Lauzon, 2007)

 

Jeanne Dunning is a photographer whose work resonates in the mind as being powerful and a unique angle on the relationship between women and their bodies. In The Blob 4 There has been a bag of silicon substance placed over the body of a woman to exaggerate the flesh and the organs of the human torso. In the video which accompanies the image, the woman seems to be attempting to dress the blob in silk clothing, portraying the distress that comes from women clothing themselves. In essence the blob represents the embarrassment we have over our physicality and the vulnerability which arises from being exposed (Cotton. C 2009). The blob seems to be a mixture of oversized organs and bulging flesh which is out of control, much like the way that we cannot fully have power over the way which our body works.

Somehow this image creates an uncomfortable environment, which is also familiar. Dunning displays an exaggerated idea of how we can feel when our bodies are taking over our emotions. It is easy to say that we do not care about the size and shape of our features, however there is always an underlying need to achieve perfection, this is undeniably part of our human nature. As a result, Dunning has created more than a photograph; this is a conceptional piece of artwork in which the idea is of more value than the physical image itself. The more the audience begin to understand The Blob the more they are able to admire Dunning’s insight into our unconscious self.

 

Rachel Lauzon (2007) Jeanne Dunning http://www.centrevox.ca/en/exposition/jeanne-dunning-2/ (07/02/16)

 

Jeanne Dunning (1999) The Blob 4 http://www.mocp.org/detail.php?t=objects&type=browse&f=maker&s=Dunning%2C+Jeanne&record=2 (07/02/16)

 

MoCP (2016) Jeanne Dunning http://www.mocp.org/detail.php?t=objects&type=browse&f=maker&s=Dunning%2C+Jeanne&record=2 (07/02/16)

 

Cotton, C. (2009) The Photograph as Contemporary Art, London: Thames and Hudson