Yesterday afternoon I visited the latest exhibition to inhabit Somerset House's East Wing. 'Blumenfeld Studio: New York 1941-1960' takes a look at the work of esteemed photographer Erwin Blumenfeld. Blumenfeld is one of the most influential fashion photographers of our time, his flawless photographs adorned the pages of Vogue and Harpers Bazaar throughout the 40's and 50's. What made Blumenfeld stand out so much more than your average photographer was his skill and originality, he used various effects using collaging, mirrors and lights etc to create visually stunning pieces of work. What amazed me was how such imaginative images could of been created centuries ago, when there were no means of photoshop or editing software, this just show how talented Blumenfeld was. If you looked close enough you could see that he used no retouching whatsoever, classic beauty Grace Kelly's arm hair was still there and you could see the texture of her skin, yet it was still flawless.
From my point of view, being an avid lover of fashion magazines, it was also interesting to see Vogues covers from years ago and how much they have changed. The exhibition really focuses on vintage photography and shows that it doesn't have to be boring with a model stiff in the centre, Blumenfeld was ahead of the times with his imaginative imagery. The photos I really liked were the ones with the cigarettes, there was one and the model was wearing a flower bracelet and it showed how different smoking was portrayed in those days and was a really beautiful shot.
The exhibition may seem a little boring to some as there isn't much interactivity and the images are quite small, it is the complete opposite to the Tim Walker Storyteller exhibition which vacated Somerset House a few months ago, but that shows how much photography has changed nowadays, and will be sure to capture the imagination of those who are interested in the art of photography. In fact I feel Blumenfeld may have been the Walker of his day. His photos, like Walkers, are incredibly surreal, magical and precious that it keeps you guessing how it was created.
I really advise any budding photographers, fashion photographers or lovers of fashion to visit, as its so interesting to see his tricks up close, moreover theres a video playing for you get a deeper insight in to Blumenfeld and his work. You're not permitted to take photos (always a bummer) but I've found some images of Blumnfeld work which I really liked and posted below for you.
The exhibit runs till the 1 September so you've got plenty of time to visit especially if you're planning a visit to London over the summer, moreover it's free which is always a bonus particularly for students like me! So get yourselves down there.