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Bert Stern: Shapes & Symbols Early Advertising Works 1953-1970' opens at Keyes Art Gallery
“Shapes and Symbols” combines fashion and commercial photographs from the fifties and sixties. The exhibition presents a selection of iconic images displayed for the first time in terms of their artistic value.


EAST HAMPTON, NY.- Keyes Art Gallery in association with The Bert Stern Trust and Galerie 36 presents the first comprehensive exhibition of the visionary advertising photographs of American photographer Bert Stern (1929 - 2013) from the early fifties to the early seventies. The exhibition "Shapes & Symbols” shows a selection of iconic images that emerged during the highly productive time of his rise to become one of the top advertising photographers. Many of the works exhibited have never before been publicly displayed outside publications and magazines of their time and can now be seen for the first time in terms of their artistic value.

Bert Stern is credited with having redefined advertising imagery in the early 1950s. Previously, advertising in magazines was used primarily to illustrate the text.Through his conceptual vision, Stern ushered in a new era of advertising, one where photographic images began to communicate much more elusive and seductive messages to consumers. One of his first significant assignments was a shot in Egypt for Smirnoff Vodka in 1955 where Stern captured a martini glass placed on the sand before a looming pyramid, the top of which is seen inverted in the glass of martini. This image of classic simplicity has since been described as “the most influential break with traditional advertising photography.1

A self-taught photographer, Stern began his career as an assistant at Flair. In 1946, while working at Look, he met and befriended Stanley Kubrick, for whom he would later shoot the iconic images of Sue Lyon as Lolita. After serving in the US Army, Stern returned to New York and began working on advertising campaigns. In 1953, during an assignment for a Madison Avenue advertising agency he photographed his first major assignment for Smirnoff Vodka in White Sands, New Mexico.This commission was the prelude to his great research of aesthetic image- finding.


1. Robert A. Sobieszek,The Art of Persuasion: A History of Advertising Photography, NewYork: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 1988, p.99






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