Vogue Magazine Archives Make for Stunning Exhibition “Vogue Like a Painting”

The exhibition showcases 61 masterpieces from the archives of Vogue magazine.

Clifford Coffin, Untitled (1949)
Photo: Courtesy Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Despite the increasing fusion of the worlds of fashion and art—evidenced by the growing number of blockbuster exhibitions about fashion designers, luxury brands sponsoring art initiatives, and artists collaborating with fashion brands—fashion is still seen by many as the lesser, more frivolous sibling of art.

For those with such opinions, the exhibition “Vogue Like a Painting,” currently on view at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, could well dispel any doubts.

Tim Walker, The Dress Lamp Tree, England (2004)Photo: Courtesy Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Tim Walker, The Dress Lamp Tree, England (2004).
Photo: Courtesy Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Michael Thompson, Carmen as Zurbarán’s Santa Isabel (2000)<br>Photo: Courtesy Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Michael Thompson, Carmen as Zurbarán’s Santa Isabel (2000).
Photo: Courtesy Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Exploring the fertile crossover between painting and photography, the show offers a stunning selection of 61 fashion images inspired by paintings from several art historical periods, including the Renaissance and Rococo, as well as the languid female beauties that so fascinated the British Pre-Raphaelites.

Clifford Coffin, Untitled (1954)<br>Photo: Courtesy Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Clifford Coffin, Untitled (1954).
Photo: Courtesy Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

The dazzling photographs, which have been carefully selected from the archives of Vogue magazine, were taken by some of the leading photographers of the last few decades, including Irving Penn, Annie Leibovitz, Peter Lindbergh, Paolo Roversi, Mario Testino, Tim
 Walker, Nick Knight, Deborah Turbeville, William Klein, Cecil Beaton, Edward Steichen, Horst P. Horst, and David Seidner.

Camilla Akrans, A Single Woman (2010)<br>Photo: Courtesy Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Camilla Akrans, A Single Woman (2010).
Photo: Courtesy Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Even though they are mostly images taken from fashion editorials, their beguiling use of light and texture bring to mind museum-quality masterpieces from Johannes Vermeer, John Everett Millais or René Magritte.

Grant Cornett, Untitled (2014)<br>Photo: Courtesy Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Grant Cornett, Untitled (2014).
Photo: Courtesy Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

“Vogue was the forerunner of fashion photography when, in the 1920s, it began to replace illustrated front covers with photographic images by artists as revolutionary as Edward Steichen,” Yolanda Sacristán, editor-in-chief of Spanish Vogue, said in a statement.

“It was he, together with other great Vogue photographers—principally Cecil Beaton, Horst P. Horst and Irving Penn—who transformed the genre into an exceptional art form, paving the way for modern photography.”

Paolo Roversi, Stella, Paris (1999)Photo: Courtesy Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Paolo Roversi, Stella, Paris (1999).
Photo: Courtesy Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

“Vogue Like a Painting” is on view at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid, from June 30 – October 12, 2015.  

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