February 23May 19, 2013
Mary and Charlie
Babcock Wing Gallery
Considered some of the most striking creations of 20th-century photography, the more than 100
selected photographs in this exhibition constitute an oeuvre of unequalled brilliance by the first great American fashion photographer.
Edward Steichen was already a famous painter and photographer on both sides of the Atlantic when, in early 1923, he was offered one of the most prestigious and lucrative positions in photography's commercial domainthat of chief photographer for Condé Nast's glamorous and influential magazines Vogue and Vanity Fair. For the next fifteen years, Steichen put his exceptional talents, prodigious energies, and modernist sensibilities to work dramatizing and glamorizing celebrities such as Gloria Swanson, Katharine Hepburn, Gary Cooper, Martha Graham, Walt Disney, Greta Garbo, Fred Astaire, and others. Organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Star Power brings together Steichen's Condé Nast portraits of luminaries from the worlds of politics, literature, government, journalism, dance, theatre, music, fashion, and the opera.
In much the same way that portraits in Reynolda's collection glamorized and idealized their subjects, Steichen's images elevated the stars of the 1920s and '30s to near iconic status.
The era documented in the exhibition, 1923 to 1937, resonates with a glamorous period in Reynolda's history, when Mary Reynolds Babcock redesigned the historic house's basement in the latest streamlined modern style to serve as a fashionable gathering place for her friends, and Nancy Reynolds commissioned elegant evening gowns from New York design houses.
This exhibition has been organized by the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, Minneapolis, in collaboration with Reynolda House Museum of American Art.
Reynolda House is grateful for the generous support of Major Sponsor Charles H. Babcock, Jr. Arts and Community Initiative Endowment; Contributing Sponsor Hanesbrands; and Exhibition Partners Linda and Ed Kelly and Macy's.
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Image credits: Edward Steichen: Martha Graham, 1931 © 1931 Condé Nast Publications, New York; Gloria Swanson, 1924. © 1924 Condé Nast Publications, New York; Walt Disney, 1933. © 1933 Condé Nast Publications, New York; Gary Cooper, 1930. © 1930 Condé Nast Publications, New York; Models Claire Coulter and Avis Newcomb wearing dresses by Lanvin and Chanel, at 1200 Fifth Avenue, 1931. © 1931 Condé Nast Publications, New York