Looking for something to feast your eyes on this weekend then look no further than Somerset House’s latest fashion exhibition, Blumenfeld Studio: New York, 1941-1960. Don’t let the longwinded title sway you, this is an exhibition that’s anything but tiresome. If you’ve not heard of Erwin Blumenfeld before then be prepared to be very intimately aquianted. The Berlin-born photographer was one of the most exciting fashion snappers of his time and in demand through the ‘40s and’50s covering fashion editorial for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar as well as artful enticing portraits for his personal pleasure.
The Somerset House show which runs until September 1st covers Blumenfeld’s most gritty, gorgeous and influential work. From capturing Hollywood icons like Grace Kelly leaning casually against door frames to pushing a model’s comfort zone and shooting them stretched out from the Eiffel Tower, Blumenfeld swings from intimate portraiture to exploratory fashion photography in moments. The exhibition made us yearn for the golden age of beauty and fashion – when everything seemed so elegant and glamorous and punk was a distant thought to the masses.
But it’s not just the imagery that is completely captivating. Blumenfeld’s own life reads like an brilliant novel. He was a soldier in the First World War, a painter, part of the Dadaist movement and owned a leather goods shop, all before ever picking up a camera. Add in a little romance, time spent in New York and a friendship with Cecil Beaton and we’re not surprised BBC4 commissioned a film about his life. Whether it’s a life bursting to the seams or the avant garde ways in which he shot photographs – solarisation, photomontages and more – this is an exhibition you really can’t miss.