Lights, Camera, Action: Horst P. Horst

The V&A have orchestrated a retrospective spanning over the 60 year career of the photographer, Horst P. Horst. The German-American photographer is best known for his photography of fashion and women. However the V&A exhibition has not limited us in any way, as a wide range of Horst’s work is on show, from fashion to home & garden to male bums.

Horst began his journey with Vogue in the early 1930s. In 1931, Horst had his first photograph published in Vogue France. By the mid 1930’s Horst had bypassed his mentor George Hoyningen-Huene and became Vogue’s primary photographer. By this point his images were appearing in the British, French and American editions of the magazines. Soon enough Horst was rubbing shoulders with acclaimed Coco Chanel. Who he then spent the next three decades working closely with.

image

Coco Chanel, 1937 by Horst P. Horst

The Horst couture room at the V&A plays host to the vintage prints by Horst from the Vogue archives. A model that strikes out continuously is the Swedish born Lisa Fonssagrives. Horst took a few test shots of Fonssagrives at the French Vogue studio whilst she was working as a teacher. Soon enough she became a star model. Fonssagrives states later on “I became a model because he made me one”. I suppose this a mere insight to the power Horst’s photographs bare.

Below are the vintages prints of Fonssagrives, annotated by Horst.

 

image

 

At the end of the fashion centred room stand 9 mannequins dressed in the finest 1930’s Parisian inspired clothing. A great touch by the V&A.

 

image

 

Later on an array of Horst Vogue colour prints are exhibited. These are rarely exhibited as very few colour vintage prints exist. 

image

A fasnicating insight into Horsts surrealistic work is given light. The surrealist art movement embarked upon the world of dreams and the unconscious for breaths of inspirations. At this time period Horst created a number of still lifes and collaborated with the father of surrealism Salvador Dali. His work from this period truly shows how great Horst is a photographer, one that is not constrained by an ability to only explore fashion and modelling. He truly is a master of all themes.  

image

 

image

Lisa: Hands with Vase & Flowers, Date unknown by Horst P. Horst

And just before you leave you get a glimpse of an array of male nude photographs.

image

Male Nude, Back Study 1, 1952 by Horst P. Horst

Overall a great send off.