Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Peter Lindbergh or Helmut Newton are four of the most representative photographers of the twentieth century. Their works have become iconic and object of desire for so many art collectors.
Sotheby’s has scheduled the auction Photographs for May 19th. It includes some of the most important fashion photographs of the twentieth century. On the occasion of the auction, which it will take place in London, we are going to review the images that have marked the history of this genre.
Irving Penn’s work Mouth (for L’Oreal) is the star of the collection. In fact, it has the world record sale price, estimate between €230.000 and €290.000. It’s an image that shows the special artistic sensibility of the photographer, with a mixture of surreal beauty and timeless elegance.
Penn compares the lips with a painter’s palette, looking criticize the traditional perfect beauty by cosmetics brands. A multitude of shades of lipsticks are intermingled in a mouth that simulates being sewn.
Rochas Mermaid Dress (Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn) is another of the most famous images of Irving Penn. It was taken in July 1950 when Vogue sent Penn to Paris to portray the haute couture collections.
He immortalized the most daring and groundbreaking dresses in daylight and in front of an old theater curtain. The peculiarity of this picture is that Penn married the model a few weeks after taking it.
Peter Lindbergh’s work Mathilde is just a tribute to the same mannequin, Lisa Fonssagrives, and her Erwin Blumenfeld’s portrait on the Eiffel Tower. In 1989, Lindbergh wanted to make a modern reinterpretation of this photo published 50 years ago in Vogue.
With leather pants, chains, a gothic look and a half-naked body, Mathilde has become an iconic image, which goes on sale at Sotheby’s auction for a price between €125,000 and €190,000.
Peter Lindbergh is also one of the most famous works in the history of fashion photography. In 1990, the camera managed to gather Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington, Estelle Lefebure, Karen Alexander and Rachel Williams at Los Angeles beach.
Dressed only with a male white shirt, smiling and without makeup, Lindbergh sought to show the models naturally in an era marked by perfect beauty and retouching. The estimated price for this image is €75,000 – €100,000 euros.
Perhaps what Richard Avedon became one of the most important photographers of the twentieth century was his special ability to highlight the true character of the characters he portrayed.
The image of Marilyn Monroe that will be auctioned at Sotheby’s is a perfect example. A portrait of her, as he said, “after the actress was dancing, singing and flirting for hours”. Its estimated sale price is €38,000 – €63,000.
Helmut Newton, however, highlighted by connecting the provocative aesthetics with fashion photography. As he said: “Good taste is anti-fashion, anti-photo, anti-woman, anti-erotic! Vulgarity is life, fun, desire, extreme reactions”.
Woman into Man is the Newton’s work at the Sotheby’s auction, with an estimated price between €15,000 and €22,000. Newton wanted to show a strong and dominant woman, turning the subordinate role of women shown in fashion magazines of the time.
In addition to these great photographers of the second half of the twentieth century, between the lots of the auction we can find images of contemporary reference names like David Lachapelle or Miles Aldridge.
The auction Photographs demonstrates again that the genre of fashion photography is living a great moment. Because, as once said Irving Penn, “a good photographer is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart and is able to change the viewer who has seen it. It is, in a word, effective”.