Sunday, May 9, 2021

The Vanished Glamor of Midcentury Print Media


In a city whose news has become a kiosk, the Chewing Gum Emporium, where the shelves of Grand Central Newsstand have been battered by chips and phone chargers, is one of my few remaining joys. Casa magazines. It is a hole-in-one shop at the corner of Eighth Avenue and 12th Street, and every inch of every wall and floor is hot with a fuzzy and international fashion and design publications for a shrinking class of print lovers. (I still remember today when I Founded a magazine in 2015The relief I felt when I saw my first issue on the floor of the casa; It was real then.) Once, when New York was swallowed up in smartphone screens, there were dozens of such shops in the city at the time. Now, if you care about fashion photography and print design, you are probably in a museum.

Fellow print media should seek out indifferent people “Modern Features: Photography and American Magazine” In the Jewish Museum. It offers a long gaze at fashion and editorial photography of the last century – with snacks by Edward Steichen, Irving Penn, Louise Dahl-Wolfe for publications such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Life, Look, Destiny and the rest.

With only 150 acts, many of them faculties, the show is very short and is extra for comfort. In many places, it feels more like a drive-by of Middle-East American graphics and photography than a systematic study. (Absent: among photographers George hoiningen-hyen And Horst P. Horst, And designer Alvin Lustig.)

I found myself more satisfied with the catalog, which has many spreads and not on seeing the photos in the museum. Its essays are carnivorous compared to the gallery presentation, and include one of Gordon Parks’s editorial works by the art historian Maurice Berger, Who died last year in the first weeks of the coronovirus epidemic. Nevertheless, the focus of the Jewish Museum’s show on New York media from the 1930s to the 1950s provides an opportunity to escape the parity of our digital lives, in an era when American media can still snap the future.

American magazine photography, like American design, typically received a setback from central Europe around the 1930s. Photographers in Weimar Germany shied away from the dominating, soft-focus imagery in previous decades, and using montage, multiple exposures, wide and narrow-angle lenses, and irregular focus to rethink photography for a new industrial society. (Although photography became part of the Bauhaus curriculum only in 1929). At the entrance of the show is a still-life, experimented by Berlin duo Greet Stern and Ellen Auerbach known as Ringle & Pitt, cut paper and tucked clothes to brighten bottled hair color Let’s use.

Jewish immigrants and other European exiles will bring these innovations to the United States in the coming decade. German refugee Irwin BlumenfeldOne of the largest fashion photographers of the period uplifted her model’s body with a distorted shadow, or vice versa so high that her facial parts turned into white scratches. Martin Munkkasi, from Hungary, Removed fashion editorial from the studio, One of the most famous is when he portrays a model bathing on a misty beach at a beach: a defining image of glamor of the 30s.

Herbert MatterFrom Switzerland, blurred photographs of white cloth were made in the dark black space, which ended in advertisements for stockings. His arrival coincided with advances in photographic reproduction, with a folder and a more modern type of magazine layout – discussed in the show’s catalog but only on partial view in the galleries.

Two great art directors of the years around World War II – Alexander Lieberman In vogue, and Alexey Brodovich At the Harper Bazaar – both were white Russian amigres, and both made their debuts behind the camera. Brodovich commissioned photographers to abstract and style all the famous photobooks during the day’s fashion, and in his own work.The ballet, ”He blushed and body blurred in the cereal phantom.

Lieberman began his career in the leading French photo magazine Wu and later brought Vogue in an uncompromising, highly graphic style, attracted by the photomontage of Russian Constrictivism. Images in Vogue of the 40s may overlap or be placed at an angle, and the clothes and shoes will appear in strange, surreal proportions. (These migrants made the “modern form” an interesting millennium “Engineer, agitator, constructor, “Showed interwar graphics at the Museum of Modern Art earlier this year. You can use Soviet-born montage techniques to sell revolution or eyeliner.)

“Modern Look” develops 1940s Vogue through pens, Blumenfeld, and even more images Francis McLaughlin-Gill, United Nations Secretariat: The first female fashion photographer on contract there, who shot models in street corners, at dinners, and outside the newest building. There are also replicas of the covers on the free-standing panels – extraordinary among them March 1945 NumberPhoto by Blumenfeld and art-directed by Lieberman, depicting a blurred model behind two pieces of red tape, with the caption “Do your part for the Red Cross.” Scary and sad that no mainstream fashion title will cover this bold anymore – and there’s more in the catalog, reproducing Vogue’s presentation of photos from Buchenwald. June 1945 issue, Shot by Lee Miller.

Beyond fashion, the show also features separation from the likes of Parkig, Margaret-Bourke White, and Lisquet models, and editorial photography from class and post-war. Similar graphic innovations began to appear in commercial publications such as Fortune and in the booming advertising industry. You want the show to be more associated with typographic and layout innovation by Lustig and designers Ladislav Sutar, With these midcentury photographs on the printed page. But here’s what, especially the face of the crisp, colorful cover of the science magazine Scope by the German-born designer Will bertin, Will be pleased first and then imprison those of us Instagram-optimized minimalism Of contemporary marketing. (How much more round lettering do I need on the coral and tan backgrounds?)

By the mid-1950s this golden age had started rusting. TV has arrived. Advertising revenue shrunk; So the page mattered. The editorial grew less experimental, but “Modern Look” features a coda of bandits photographers such as William Klein and Saul Litter, who found an autonomous voice in the art world. Klein had contributed to Liberman when Vogue was young, but the magazine would soon have no place for his unsolicited street photography – to say anything about his “Atom Bomb Sky, New York”, a 1955 one The cityscape whose slow exposure makes the monsoon sunset resemble Hiroshima.

But even today the art world no longer escapes the standardization pressures of the social web, where art and advertising and your friends’ vacation photos are all on the same customized color and buffered surfaces. (This is so bad that Juergen Taylor, one of the few remaining photographers using unfiltered lighting and irregular flash, has happened recently Declared by die-hard addicts As a “bad” photographer.) The deepest pains in the “modern look” don’t come from the fading glamor of midcentury print media, but we once thought about how the greatest algorithmic rules we could get from the angry display of crushing technologies Can be implemented. For my beloved paper magazine on Eighth Avenue, the friends of the shop did what should be done to save the print business: An instagram account.


Modern Look: Photography and American Magazine

Through July 11, The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Avenue. 92nd Street, Manhattan, 212.423.3200, at thejewishmuseum.org. Advance tickets are required.





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