Vanity Fair Portraits: 1913-2008

, 2007

National Portrait Gallery, London
St Martin's Place City of London WC2H 0HE United Kingdom
+20 7306 0055

Some of the greatest portrait photographs of the twentieth century were taken for, or published in, Vanity Fair. This exhibition presented a selection of 150 classic images from the magazine's first period (1913­-1936), displayed for the first time with works from the contemporary Vanity Fair (1983-present). In the first period, celebrated subjects such as Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin and Jean Harlow were shown in portraits by legendary photographers, among them Edward Steichen, Cecil Beaton, Baron De Meyer, Man Ray and George Hurrell. Although Vanity Fair suspended publication in 1936, it would be resurrected in another period of decadence and excess, the 1980s. Once again, its purpose was to record modern men and women of culture, stature and talent and, as in the early period, portrait photography was the graphic bedrock of the magazine. In the tradition of editor Frank Crowninshield (1914-36), the revived monthly commissioned the world's leading portrait photographers, among them Helmut Newton, Nan Goldin, Herb Ritts, Harry Benson, Mario Testino, Jonathan Becker and Bruce Weber.