A Swedish museum seeks to spotlight the artistic qualities of fashion photography.
Set in Falsterbo, a beach resort in southern Sweden located a short drive from Copenhagen, the Falsterbo Photo Art Museum welcomes state-of-the-art photo exhibitions.
Malmö-based collectors Christina and Claes Lindquist are the founders of the privately funded museum. They share the same vision of highlighting fashion photography’s importance as a creative medium in contemporary culture. First set to open in Copenhagen, the museum now plays a key role in southern Sweden and the Nordic region. Dressed for Success — 100 Years of Fashion Photography, the museum’s first exhibition, displays over 100 exclusive prints that reflect the history of fashion photography. Over the years, the couple has gathered more than 450 signed original and vintage prints by some of the world’s most famous photographers such as Robert Mapplethorpe, Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, to name just a few.
What strikes the eye is the open-mindedness with which the couple collected; the number of topics their collection embraces; and the quality of each and every print. From George Hoyningen-Huene’s historically ground-breaking photographs from the 1920s, vintage Vogue covers dating back to the 1950s or Steven Miesel’s extravagant mise-en-scène capturing Karlie Kloss in a sci-fi gown, one travels through numerous icons of the 20th century.
From one print to the next, the viewer reconnects with the golden years of top models, with prints showing Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell posing for Peter Lindbergh in New York in 1990, their radiant youth shining through; to Helmut Newton’s iconic and provocative nude images that challenge established gender roles. Representative of an era, these pictures could not be staged in the same manner today; they would be too controversial.
“All these pioneering photographers explored the relationship between art and fashion: they were instrumental in establishing photography as an artform where popular culture, haute couture, street style, representations of beauty and gender issues were mixed and challenged. They opened the door to new aesthetics, raised social issues, embraced new ideals”, explains Claes Lindquist.
If many of the works shown were originally commissioned by fashion magazines, they are now part of modern art collections. “As they became more and more influential over the past decades, fashion houses and magazines projected new ideas, influenced popular culture. They looked at the future as much as photographers borrowed from Surrealism or street photography, Old Masters or Symbolism,” adds Lindquist. Model Ellen von Unwerth went behind the camera, often showing that ‘girls wanna have fun’, while David LaChapelle consistently questioned consumerism when portraying extreme Hollywood ideals.