December 15, 2008

Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs 1913–2008

Over the weekend I visited the Vanity Fair Portraits: Photographs 1913-2008 exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The exhibit celebrates the magazine's 95th anniversary of celebrity portraiture and features photographs from its archives.

Over the years, many a famous actor, dancer, painter, writer, and politician have collaborated with the most talented and in-demand photographers of the day for Vanity Fair, and the tradition certainly continues. The likes of Cecil Beaton, Annie Leibovitz, Edward Steichen, and Mario Testino have shot such luminaries as Princess Diana, Katharine Hepburn, Margaret Thatcher, Pablo Picasso, Josephine Baker, Frida Kahlo, Martin Scorsese, and many more. Among my favorite portraits: a breathtaking painterly photo of Julianne Moore in the style of Ingres; a charming moment between siblings and dancing partners Adele and Fred Astaire (pre-Ginger Rogers era), and a languid Nicole Kidman draped across the sofa in the historic home of Bloomsbury artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, captured years before Kidman portrayed Vanessa's sister Virginia Woolf on-screen in The Hours.

I've actually twice visited this exhibit; the first time coincided with its opening day at the National Portrait Gallery in London. It was February 14th, and I found myself alone for a couple of hours in my favorite city. With my boyfriend thousands of miles away in Los Angeles, I considered the next best way to celebrate a holiday for lovers was to spend a rainy afternoon with these remarkable portraits. It was the perfect valentine to myself.


please sir said...

Oh this looks so neat - wish I could go!

Anonymous said...

Ooh! I'm visiting LA for a couple days in January and this looks like the perfect way to spend an afternoon!

Joanna said...

please sir: I do hope you get a chance to see it. It's so inspiring.

citysage: I highly recommend. You'll love it!

Mary-Laure said...

I just went to see the show today and I loved it! It was my first time at the LACMA but won't be the last.
I want to see th Hearst show too.