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Sep 06 - Jan 04

Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London, , SW7 2RL, UK
  • Dinner suit and headdress by Schiaparelli, 1947. © Condé Nast/Horst Estate

  • Marlene Dietrich, New York, 1942. © Condé Nast/Horst Estate

  • Dress by Hattie Carnegie, 1939. © Condé Nast/Horst Estate


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“Horst: Photographer of Style” exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Victoria & Albert Museum dedicates a retrospective to one of the most important photographers of the 20th century, Horst P. Horst (1906-1999). The exhibition, titled “Horst: Photographer of Style”, aims to cast a light on the 60-year career of the prolific German photographer, considered by many to be the master of light and shadow. With 10 rooms, 250 photographs and 150 objects, including notebooks, sketches, contact sheets, magazine covers and film footage, the showcase covers the full spectrum of his work, from his first-ever, black and white photos for French Vogue from 1932 and his Surrealist-inspired images from the mid-thirties, featuring personalities like Elsa Schiaparelli or Salvador Dalí, to his experiments with color photography and his iconic portraits of famous Hollywood stars like Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford and Vivien Leigh. On view there are also his lesser-known nude studies, his photography diaries form his travels to the Middles East, and his interior images for American Vogue and House and Garden, under the guidance of legendary editor Diana Vreeland.

Horst was born in Germany in 1906. When he was still a teenager, he met dancer Evan Weidermann at his aunt’s home and since then he started being interested in the avant-garde. He studied architecture in Hamburg and in 1930 he went to Paris to become an apprentice of Le Corbusier. There he met French Vogue photographer George Hoyningen-Huene, who introduced him to fashion photography, and he soon begun to work for the French and British editions of Vogue. By 1937 he was already living in New York, collaborating with Coco Chanel and shooting for American Vogue, and in 1943 he received the United States citizenship. His personal style, his unique approach to portrait photography and his impeccable compositions –he could spend days and days searching for the right light– made him world famous and had a major influence on many generations of fashion photographers.

“Horst went from pre-war haute couture to post-war ready-to-wear, from black and white to color, from Paris to New York – no other photographer documented that period with the same dedication of Horst, he was just constantly producing,” Susanna Brown, curator of the exhibition, told Vogue UK. “He was one of the greatest photographers of fashion and society and produced some of the most famous and evocative images of the 20th century,” added Martin Roth, director of the Victoria and Albert Museum. “This exhibition will shine a light on all aspects of his long and distinguished career. Horst’s legacy and influence, which has been seen in work by artists, designers and performers including Herb Ritts, Robert Mapplethorpe, Bruce Weber and Madonna, continues today.”