By Elizabeth Patterson
Some fashion images have always blurred the line between fashion and art. Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza takes this to the next level, presenting their first photo exhibition, specifically focusing on images from the pages of Vogue that mirror or have the feel of classical paintings. Vogue Like A Painting features works from Mert and Marcus, Mario Testino, Peter Lindbergh, Tim Walker, Deborah Turbeville and more. The breathtaking exhibit truly elevates fashion photography to an art form that deserves its own space.
All the chosen photographs do possess a certain timeless charm to them. Some look like they could be exchanged with a Vermeer or a Goya and no one would be the wiser. A photo of four women in stunning gowns, faces turned away from the camera, hands entwined and frozen in a moment of movement gives the atmosphere of Boticelli; while another of a woman on a spiral staircase, her long, flowing blue gown, matched exactly in color to the wall behind her and draping over the railing to the floor also fits in perfectly with the painterly theme of the exhibit. A few are even direct references, like one meant to resemble a modern “Girl With a Pearl Earring” and another based on “La Santa Isabel of Portugal”.
Not all of the featured photos are as obvious in their references to specific paintings or styles. Some are much more modern, featuring stark colors rather than muted ones, like a particular photo of Rooney Mara with ruby red lips in an ivory gown that matches her skin tone, lying on the ground surrounded by lush greenery. The theme extends to photos that capture the je ne sais quoi feeling of a classical painting, even if they’re relatively current in style and color. Still moments of beauty and the tranquility they offer reflect the stillness of paintings hundreds of years old.
Vogue Like a Painting is a magnificent exhibit that needs to be seen. It’s on view at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, Spain until October 12, 2015.