Showcasing over 200 works, including 30 never-before-seen photographs by French photographer Erwin Blumenfeld, Cité de la Mode et du Design allows visitors to experience Blumenfeld’s innovative take on fashion and beauty photography. During the 1940s and 50s, his images were published in magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Look, Life and Cosmopolitan, making him the most famous, and highest paid, photographer of his generation.
Keeping with the institution’s spring programming, the photographic spotlight makes a selection of colour images from a personal archive of nearly 700 works and research images. The comprehensive survey includes images taken prior to his war-induced departure from France, which highlights his consistent artistic vision stemming from the European Avant-garde movement with light infusions of Dada, Impressionism, 1920s modernity and cinema. Blumenfeld’s characteristic use of colour, lighting, repeated motifs (including an innocuous folding screen), shortened silhouettes and unconventional framing “stems from his constant desire to link commercial orders and artistic points of reference,” said the curators in a statement.
The exhibition reinforces the subtle and playful manipulation of reality in the creative liberties taken, and his final images are “nothing more than a series of experimental takes, somewhere between planned images and ‘craft’,” the statement continues. The tension between the commercial framework and Blumenfeld’s desire to produce without constraints is critical in both the appreciation of his contributions to American photography as well as the pioneering approach that saw the abandonment of traditional standards of fashion photography and cover shoot imagery.
An app has been developed by Fixioneers for this exhibition which will feature exclusive articles, catalogue entries and videos by curators Nadia Blumenfeld Charbit and Francois Cheval. Available on Appstore and Google Play until 4 June 2017.