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)

 

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