Weird Beauty: Fashion Photography Now

New York
16 January – 3 May 2009
Curated by Carol Squiers and Vince Alett

Images by more than forty of the most innovative photographers working in the fashion industry today will be on view in Weird Beauty: Fashion Photography Now, at the International Center of Photography (1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street) from January 16 through May 3, 2009. To highlight the original context of these photographs, this exhibition will feature hundreds of tear sheets, along with approximately twenty original photographic prints, and online media. The inclusion of such a variety of presentational formats will serve to illustrate the diversity that is characteristic of current fashion imagery.


Although the ultimate purpose of the fashion photograph is to promote high-end style and beauty products, the resulting works often emerge as some of the most imaginative and multifaceted images currently being produced. Assisted by a team of stylists and editors, the photographer carefully selects the components of each story—often drawing on influences from art history, literature, digital media, youth culture, history, and current events. Evidence of these sources can be seen in local and international publications alike, adjusted to relate to the specific location, age, or gender of the target audience. Weird Beauty will present photographs derived from both widely recognized and lesser known magazines, including: 10 (UK), Another (UK), Doingbird (AU), Kid’s Wear (DE), New York Times T Magazine (US), Numéro (FR), Pop (UK), Purple Fashion (FR), V (US), Vogue (FR/IT/US), W (US), and others.


Represented in the international group of photographers are:


Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, a London-based collaborative team that produces haunting stories with a strong emphasis on polished and flawless beauty. In the 44-page story I’m A Marionette (Pop Magazine S/S 2007), the duo designed an eerie set of women-cum-marionettes gazing lifelessly into the distance; American photographer Steven Klein, whose Le Gôut des Robes (Vogue Paris, October 2007) depicts manicured housewives roaming the colorful aisles of the local supermarket, as they oscillate between moments of utter boredom and despair; Cindy Sherman, who employs her iconic method of costuming in a series of photographs produced for Vogue Paris (Merci Cindy!, August 2007) in order to promote Balenciaga clothing items; Sølve Sundsbø, based in London, whose Batty Boy (Arena Homme, Summer–Autumn 2007) introduces a ghostly male figure wearing an oversized square coat and heavy black makeup, as he stands motionless in a dim environment; Juergen Teller, who expands his advertising campaign for Marc Jacobs into a fashion story in Purple Fashion Magazine (Summer 2007), as he captures his models—William Eggleston, Dakota Fanning and Charlotte Rampling— in an array of awkward and brutally honest predicaments; British photographer Tim Walker, who looks to the memorable Horst P. Horst photograph of Dalí costumes (1939) as inspiration for his story A Magic World (Vogue Italia, January 2008).


Also featured in Weird Beauty are several photographers not commonly associated with fashion, including Nan Goldin, who contributes regularly to the German children’s fashion magazine Kid’s Wear, and Collier Schorr, who shoots for fashion publications such as Doingbird, i-D, and Numéro Homme.


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