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Defining an Era of Elegance and Glamour: Edward Steichen Photographs at the Art Gallery of Ontario
On George Baher’s yacht: June Cox wearing unidentified fashion; E. Vogt wearing fashion by Chanel and a hat by Reboux; Lee Miller wearing a dress by Mae and Hattie Green and a scarf by Chanel; Hanna-Lee Sherman wearing unidentified fashion, 1928. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Condé Nast Archive, New York © 1928 Condé Nast Publications.

TORONTO.- From September 26, 2009 to January 3, 2010, the Art Gallery of Ontario will host an exhibition that proves glamour never goes out of style. Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, the Condé Nast Years, 1923 –1937 presents 200 beautifully preserved gelatin silver prints from the Vogue and Vanity Fair Condé Nast Archive and brings them to Canada for the first time.

Edward Steichen’s black-and-white fashion and celebrity images defined glamour in the 1920s and ‘30s, and they still do today. As the chief photographer for Vogue and Vanity Fair, Steichen filled the pages of Condé Nast’s flagship magazines with brilliant and unforgettable images — transforming fashion into high art as he photographed the collections of leading houses such as Poiret, Chanel, Lanvin, Grès and Schiaparelli. He immortalized hundreds of luminaries, from writers and artists to politicians and actors — including George Bernard Shaw, Noel Coward, Martha Graham, Amelia Earhart, Charlie Chaplin, Gary Cooper and Joan Crawford.

When Steichen first took the job with Condé Nast, he set off quite a furor. He was already a well- established figure in photography’s fine arts movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and his move to the world of magazines was viewed by many as a betrayal. Yet Steichen believed that photographs constituted a powerful new form of communication — and the pages of Vogue and Vanity Fair provided an irresistible platform.

“Steichen posed his subjects in striking environments, lit them dramatically and coaxed from them a vitality that the photographs seem barely able to contain,” explained Sophie Hackett, AGO’s Assistant Curator, Photography. “His photographs are by turn mischievous, languid, witty and graceful. He pioneered a new visual language of glamour, profoundly shaping the look of celebrity and fashion to this day.”

“Edward Steichen set out to ‘make Vogue a Louvre,’” said Matthew Teitelbaum, the AGO’s Michael and Sonja Koerner director, and CEO. “And with this exhibition of his fashion photographs and celebrity portraits, we recognize his innovative work.”

“The volunteers of the AGO enjoy supporting art and sharing their knowledge and time with visitors,” said AGO Volunteer President Anne Marie Smith. “We are proud to sponsor the Edward Steichen exhibition with funds from the Volunteer Endowment Trust. The glamour and elegance of the photographs make Steichen's work easy to share.”

On view from September 26, 2009 to January 3, 2010, Edward Steichen: In High Fashion, the Condé Nast Years, 1923 –1937 is a rare opportunity to see the work of a man who knew that photographs could make us swoon.

Art Gallery of Ontario | George Bernard Shaw | Noel Coward | Martha Graham | Amelia Earhart | Charlie Chaplin | Gary Cooper | Joan Crawford. |

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