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Edward Steichen was the primary photographer for Vanity Fair and Vogue in the 1920s and 1930s. Already recognised for his distinctive style and his use of light in his portraiture work of the early 1900s, Steichen applied his artistic vision to “transform fashion photography and capture the sophistication of the newly liberated modern woman”.

In the exhibition “Edward Steichen and Art Deco Fashion” more than 200 original vintage photographs are showcased with various Art Deco fashion items from the National Gallery of Victoria’s (NGV) collection. 

Tony Ellwood, Director NGV said, “Steichen’s evocative images are regarded as among the most striking in early-to-mid-20th century photography and his fashion work in particular revolutionized the genre of fashion photography. This exhibition provides a rare opportunity to view such a large body of his work”.

Steichen has long been one of my favourite photographers. The images in this exhibition may represent his commercial work, but Steichen’s bent for pushing boundaries and breaking the rules is clearly evident.

In the early 1900s Steichen joined renowned pictorialist Alfred Stieglitz to champion the Photo-Secession movement in the US. For Steichen the camera was a tool, the same as a paintbrush or stick of charcoal with which to sketch his view of life. 

In the book Edward Steichen: The Early Years he is described as “a born artist, for whom style was substance, controversy was the greatest of all good fun and self confidence was second nature.” Steichen was a photographer who at his core was an artist and this exhibition is a wonderful tribute.

Edward Steichen and Art Deco Fashion
Until 2 March 2014
National Gallery of Victoria
St. Kilda Road

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In the archives of...
Harold Feinstein Remembers Edward Steichen

If I were to name the five most important people in my photography career, Edward Steichen would have to be on that list. I was only sixteen in 1947 when Steichen, then 68, became the Director of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art. Three years later, in 1950, I walked into t...