Monday, November 3, 2014

Horst by Christina Ptuhina

Horst P. Horst directing model Lisa Fonssagrives (1949). Courtesy of Getty Images.

Horst P. Horst, or simply Horst, dedicated 60 years of his life to fashion photography. During this time he captured various celebrities such as Jean Cocteau and Marlene Dietrich, the Presidents and their First Ladies, the royal families and models for countless magazine covers.

Vogue (May 1941). Source:
Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann was born in Germany in 1906. His young years coincided with one of the most vibrant period in the art history – the 20s and the 30s. Having taken the course in furniture making, Horst learnt about Bauhaus and headed to Paris to learn from the pioneer of modern architecture Le Corbusier. However, he quickly changed his mind and quit, but the major adventure was already waiting for him.

“A model wears a fuschia dress suit and hat with bow detail by Emme” (1961). Courtesy of Condè Nast Archive. Source:
In Paris he met fashion photographer George Hoyningen-Huene who worked for Condé Nast, and became his assistant and protégé. Very soon Horst outgrew his friend. By 1939 he was hired by Condé Nast to work in New York. Shortly before leaving Europe he shot one of his most famous images - The Mainbocher Corset, the picture of a model wearing an unraveling corset. According to Cathy Horan, “He said the picture summed up his feelings about an era's end. “While I was taking it,” he said, “I was thinking of all that I was leaving behind” (NY Times. Link:
The Mainbocher Corset (1939). 

New York has truly opened a whole new chapter for Horst. He later received American citizenship and served in US Army as a photographer. He also made sure that name became everlasting in the history of fashion photography. Horst’s pictures are based on the exceptional use of lighting techniques, experimentation with forms and implementation of visual harmony. The models look like the dancers carefully snapped at the moment of their ultimate grace. Whether it is a wide shot or a close-up, in black and white or in colour, it is always very elegant, subtle and sensual. 
It is difficult to imagine that someone successfully worked in such a dynamic, fast-moving industry as fashion, from 30s to early 90s. Horst managed to stay always up-to-date, which takes a truly youthful soul and the infinite energy. Horst was very productive and has left a massive body of work. “I like taking photographs, because I like life,” he once said. “And I love photographing people best of all, because most of all I love humanity.” (Art SY. Link:

“Model Wearing Yellow Felt Hat” (1943). Source

1947. Source:

Vogue (May 1952). Source:

By: Christina Ptuhina

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