The images in this portfolio represent only a tiny part of the archives of Condé Nast, an international group that made rain and shine in the illustrated press in the XXe century with its flagship magazines. vogue, bought by the American businessman Condé Montrose Nast (1873-1942) in 1909 and devoted to fashion, or Vanity Fair, his little brother, born in 1913 and devoted to cultural and political news, imposed photography as the new language of Western modernity, offering the greatest photographers, from Irving Penn to Edward Steichen via Lee Miller and Richard Avedon, a space for expression as much as a livelihood. “At Condé Nast, these photographers were given enormous freedom and resources: there was a studio on site, in New York, with lights, equipment, assistants, a lab”, underlines Ivan Shaw, director of photography of the group from 1996 to 2016.
A legacy of these decades of the golden age for film photography, thousands of exceptional prints slept until recently in the press group’s archives in New York. A large part – a few thousand – has been bought by the Pinault collection, which presents them, until January 7, 2024, in a river exhibition entitled “Chronorama”, at the Palazzo Grassi, in Venice. These 407 images, famous or unknown, are an impressive crossing of the XXe century through the illustrated press – a pity that they are hung on the wall without the publications that hosted them.
Meetings at the top
The pictures show artists and intellectuals, a choice that was central both to vogue what to Vanity Fair. Alexander Liberman (1912-1999), the artistic director of vogue, who officiated from the 1940s, was himself a painter and sculptor. “He worked hand in hand with editor Leo Lerman, who lived immersed in the art world and wrote brilliant reviews,” recalls Ivan Shaw. In 1927, the composer Igor Stravinsky, immortalized by the photographer George Hoyningen-Huene as a pensive creator, thus occupied an entire page of Vanity Fair.
The magazine vogue sometimes organizes meetings at the top between the great artists of the moment, creating tasty visual dialogues. In 1964, for an article titled “American geniuses”, Irving Penn, the most emblematic photographer of vogue, thus poses two composers, two writers and two artists together. Among them, the painters Jasper Johns and Josef Albers: years separate them, but on the image their hands seem to meet.
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Source: Le Monde