BEAUTY CULTURE provides a seminal examination of photography’s role in capturing and defining notions of modern female beauty and how these images profoundly influence our lives in both celebratory and disturbing ways.
Through different lenses focused on the body beautiful, the exhibition examines both traditional and unconventional definitions of beauty, challenging stereotypes of gender, race and age. It explores the links between beauty and violence, glamour and sexuality and the cost (in its multiple meanings) of beauty.
Featuring works from over 100 world-renowned beauty, fashion and fine art photographers, BEAUT Y CULTURE encourages a social discussion about the allure and mystique of the pursuit of female beauty, as well as its cult-like glorification and the multi-billion dollar industries that surround it.
BEAUTY CULTURE presents diverse viewpoints on beauty as it has evolved through the 20th and 21st centuries. These viewpoints are at times challenging, daring and controversial. Ultimately, the exhibition illustrates the power of the still image in shaping cultural ideals and expectations of feminine beauty – and photography’s undeniable influence on conceptions of the Self.
In addition to over 170 photographs featured in the print gallery, BEAUTY CULTURE showcases hundreds of digital images in vivid detail on high-resolution screens in the Digital Gallery. The Digital Gallery also includes a short documentary film that expands upon the print exhibition’s themes, featuring interviews with well-known photographers, models, historians and beauty experts who guide visitors on a fascinating photographic exploration of the culture – and cult – of beauty.
Be a part of the exhibit: visitors can explore their own interpretation of beauty with the BEAUTY CULTURE Digital Salon which allows users to alter a photo of themselves. Visitors choose between a before and after image and can then email or upload the photo of their choice onto Facebook.
Please be aware that some of the photographs in BEAUTY CULTURE include graphic images, such as those of explicit medical procedures and nudity, and may not be appropriate for all ages.
Photographer/filmmaker Lauren Greenfield is renowned for her remarkable insights into youth culture, body image and the effects of consumerism. Author of the groundbreaking books Fast Forward, Girl Culture and Thin, her work is widely published and in many museum collections including the Getty, LACMA, SFMOMA and the Art Institute of Chicago. American PHOTO named Greenfield one of the 25 most influential photographers of our time. Greenfield’s Emmy-nominated documentary film Thin (HBO, 2006) provided an unprecedented window into the psychology of eating disorders. It premiered at Sundance and won the Best Documentary Award at the London Film Festival. Greenfield was commissioned by the Annenberg Foundation to direct a short film, as part of the BEAUTY CULTURE exhibition.
Largely self-taught, Melvin Sokolsky’s brief but intense career as a photographer made an important contribution to what is considered the golden age of magazine publishing (1950s - 1970s). Sokolsky was a frequent contributor to Harper’s Bazaar, Ladies Home Journal, Esquire, Newsweek, the New York Times and McCall’s (for which he photographed a complete one-man issue in October 1962). After nearly ten years at the top of his profession, Sokolsky translated his work into film and commercials. Sokolsky is the recipient of every major television commercial award including the coveted Directors Guild nomination and 25 Clio Awards. In 1972 Sokolsky was nominated for an Academy Award for a computerized zoom lens that he designed.
A photographer, makeup design director and master of color, Tyen has worked for the past 30 years with the House of Dior to create some of its their most enduring images and products. He moved to Paris at 16. He began his career doing stage makeup for the Paris Opéra. But he was soon discovered by the magazine world, creating looks for photographers such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn and Bill King. Within a year, Tyen revealed his talents as a photographer, first for his own campaigns, then for established fashion magazines: Vogue, L’Uomo Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle, and for prestigious designers such as Versace, Valentino, Issey Miyake and Gianfranco Ferré, among others.
Albert Watson has made his mark as one of the world’s most successful fashion and commercial photographers, while creating his own art along the way. His striking images, many of them iconic portraits of celebrities, have appeared on more than 100 covers of Vogue and been featured in countless other publications. Watson also has shot campaigns for many major corporations, such as Prada, Revlon and Chanel, and he has photographed dozens of Hollywood movie posters. All the while, Watson has spent his time working on personal projects, creating stunning images from his travels and interests, from Marrakesh to Las Vegas. The photo industry bible Photo District News named the Scotsman one of the 20 most influential photographers of all time.