NEW YORK, NY.-
This Is Not a Fashion Photograph, on view at the International Center of Photography
from January 16 to May 3, 2009, is an exhibition of approximately seventy photographs from 1888 to the present organized by ICP adjunct curator Vince Aletti. Drawn primarily from ICP’s permanent collection, the exhibition questions perceived notions of what fashion photography is by including works by artists who are not traditionally associated with fashion. Images by Gordon Parks, Bruce Davidson, Walker Evans, Tina Barney, Doris Ulmann, Mark Cohen, Marc Riboud, Robert Capa, Robert Mapplethorpe, Berenice Abbott, and many others show how photographers primarily known as documentarians, photojournalists, or art photographers have been especially alert to the way style reflects not just personality but a subject’s economic and social status. None of the photographs in the exhibition were taken with the intent of making a fashion photograph, but none of them would look out of place in a present-day fashion magazine. Taken together, they suggest the broad range of nonfashion influences on contemporary fashion photography.
Many photographers working in fashion today are just as interested in authenticity as they are in artifice, leading them to look outside of the history of fashion imagery for inspiration in photojournalism, the personal document, and all kinds of formal and informal portraiture. Whether their strategies are straightforward or staged, raw or sophisticated, photographers like Weegee, Lisette Model, Larry Clark, Danny Lyon, and Carrie Mae Weems have created work that could have been source material for the photographers in Weird Beauty, ICP’s concurrent survey of contemporary fashion imagery. By asking, “What is a fashion photograph?” this exhibition aims to expand our usual narrow definition by opening it up to a wider range of images of personal style.