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Edward Steichen: In High Fashion: The Condé Nast Years, 1923-1937

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Edward Steichen was already a famous painter and photographer in America and abroad when, in early 1923, he was offered the most prestigious position in photography's commercial domain: that of chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair.Over the next fifteen years, Steichen would produce a body of work of unequaled brilliance, dramatizing and glamorizing contemporary cul Edward Steichen was already a famous painter and photographer in America and abroad when, in early 1923, he was offered the most prestigious position in photography's commercial domain: that of chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair.Over the next fifteen years, Steichen would produce a body of work of unequaled brilliance, dramatizing and glamorizing contemporary culture and its achievers in politics, literature, film, sport, dance, theater, opera, and the world of high fashion. Here are iconic images of Gloria Swanson, Gary Cooper, Greta Garbo, and Charlie Chaplin as well as numerous other celebrities drawn from an archive of more than two thousand original prints. Until now, no more than a handful have been exhibited or published in book form. The photographs of the 1920s and 1930s represent the high point in Steichen's career and are among the most striking creations of twentieth-century photography.


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Edward Steichen was already a famous painter and photographer in America and abroad when, in early 1923, he was offered the most prestigious position in photography's commercial domain: that of chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair.Over the next fifteen years, Steichen would produce a body of work of unequaled brilliance, dramatizing and glamorizing contemporary cul Edward Steichen was already a famous painter and photographer in America and abroad when, in early 1923, he was offered the most prestigious position in photography's commercial domain: that of chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair.Over the next fifteen years, Steichen would produce a body of work of unequaled brilliance, dramatizing and glamorizing contemporary culture and its achievers in politics, literature, film, sport, dance, theater, opera, and the world of high fashion. Here are iconic images of Gloria Swanson, Gary Cooper, Greta Garbo, and Charlie Chaplin as well as numerous other celebrities drawn from an archive of more than two thousand original prints. Until now, no more than a handful have been exhibited or published in book form. The photographs of the 1920s and 1930s represent the high point in Steichen's career and are among the most striking creations of twentieth-century photography.

30 review for Edward Steichen: In High Fashion: The Condé Nast Years, 1923-1937

  1. 4 out of 5

    Spiderorchid

    Interesting essays and lots of gorgeous, full-page photos (plus additional small photos in the text). The majority of Steichen's fashion-photography featured in this book shows professional models but there are also pictures of celebrities like Noel Coward, Katherine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Gary Cooper, Ginger Rogers, Gloria Swanson, Charlie Chaplin etc. Interesting essays and lots of gorgeous, full-page photos (plus additional small photos in the text). The majority of Steichen's fashion-photography featured in this book shows professional models but there are also pictures of celebrities like Noel Coward, Katherine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Gary Cooper, Ginger Rogers, Gloria Swanson, Charlie Chaplin etc.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Frank McAdam

    In 1923, Edward Steichen was struggling with what would today be termed a "mid-life crisis." Living in near penury in France, the photographer had grown disillusioned in his career as an artist. He was then in his mid-forties and had long ago left behind the exuberance with which he had first traveled to Europe. In Paris, he had succeeded in meeting the twentieth century's foremost artists, many of whose works he had enthusiastically shipped back to Stieglitz to be shown in the latter's 291 Gall In 1923, Edward Steichen was struggling with what would today be termed a "mid-life crisis." Living in near penury in France, the photographer had grown disillusioned in his career as an artist. He was then in his mid-forties and had long ago left behind the exuberance with which he had first traveled to Europe. In Paris, he had succeeded in meeting the twentieth century's foremost artists, many of whose works he had enthusiastically shipped back to Stieglitz to be shown in the latter's 291 Gallery in New York City. In so doing, though, he had had to face the painful realization that his own paintings would never reach the heights of genius shown by those artists, such as Picasso and Matisse, among whom he had moved so easily. His discontent had only been exacerbated by the horrors of World War I, which he witnessed first hand, as well as the failure of his marriage. It was no surprise then that he had no qualms in giving up the life of an artist and returning to New York City where he eagerly accepted a position at Condé Nast and quickly became the world's most highly remunerated photographer. Edward Steichen: In High Fashion by William A. Ewing and Todd Brandow is a through documentation of the photographic work that Steichen created over a fifteen year period for both Vogue and Vanity Fair. While it might be assumed that the photographer left behind him the art photography he had practiced so assiduously in Europe upon joining Condé Nast, this is not the case. Although Steichen's portraits had even in his days with the Photo Secession shown a tendency towards unadorned naturalism (witness his famous 1903 photo of J.P. Morgan), he maintained the use of pictorialist techniques in his fashion photography for quite some time. Indeed, it was only when Mehemed Fehmy Agha was hired as art director of Vogue that Steichen fully embraced straight photography in depicting fashion. No matter what his style, however, Steichen's mastery of technique and lighting never wavered. One has only to look at White (plate 221) from 1935 to begin to comprehend the extent of his ability. The photo is a study of three models all dressed in white standing with a white horse against a white tiled wall. To anyone who has ever attempted a photo in which each element is pure white without losing any detail and all the while preserving a full range of tonal values, this deceptively simple image is a tour de force. Looking at the photos themselves, one has the sense of having stumbled across a lost world. Here are the most newsworthy actors, writers and society figures of the 1920's and 1930's, the celebrities whose extensive fame was the primary cause of their appearance in such magazines as Vogue and Vanity Fair in the first place. And yet so thoroughly forgotten have the majority of these once renowned personages become that it has been necessary for the authors to add a "Who's Who" as an appendix to the book. In a way this is fitting, for Steichen himself has suffered a somewhat similar fate. Though at one time he was, along with Stieglitz, America's preeminent photographer, his reputation has been so eclipsed in recent decades that he is little remembered today. This is a great injustice and one that this book will hopefully help correct. The book itself is an extremely handsome and well designed volume. The photographic reproductions are all uniformly excellent and are generally shown in full page format. There are three essays by William A. Ewing, Carol Squiers and Tobia Bezzola respectively that are all intelligently written and not only provide a great deal of information and insight regarding Steichen's tenure at Condé Nast but also display a deep respect and sympathy for Steichen's work and the creative processes he brought to bear upon it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    If you are addicted to the the fashion of the thirties you will truely love this photo collection.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Meghan Russnak

    OMG. Absolutely gorgeous book, gorgeous photographs. Quintessential 30s. I almost fell off my chair when I saw this book. I must have it for my own.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Danie P.

    beautiful photographs/portraits from the photographer of vanity fair and vogue. This book has tons of inspiration for people who love the fashion of the 1920's and 1930's. beautiful photographs/portraits from the photographer of vanity fair and vogue. This book has tons of inspiration for people who love the fashion of the 1920's and 1930's.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Raquel

    Gorgeous, gorgeous photographs. The essays left a little to be desired...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Vítor Magalhães

  8. 5 out of 5

    Freddie

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

  10. 5 out of 5

    Olga Mikhailovskaya

  11. 4 out of 5

    Crystaline

  12. 4 out of 5

    Creolecat

  13. 5 out of 5

    Celio

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sal

  15. 4 out of 5

    Raffaele

  16. 5 out of 5

    Viiciouscircle

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ivy

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephen M

  19. 5 out of 5

    Karin

  20. 5 out of 5

    Donna Dufault

  21. 5 out of 5

    Annie Nehra

  22. 4 out of 5

    Henri

  23. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sonja Sweterlitsch

  25. 5 out of 5

    Flaubertian

  26. 5 out of 5

    Giancarlo Beltrame

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kadri

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sergei Rodionov

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Engle

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

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