15 February - 28 May 2007, Wolfson Gallery, £8/£7/£6
Sponsored by Gap and Taylor Wessing
'A fashion picture is a portrait; just as a portrait is a fashion picture.' Irving Penn, 1950
Face of Fashion is a major exhibition focusing on the portraits of five outstanding fashion photographers from Europe and America:
Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott, Corinne Day, Steven Klein, Paolo Roversi and Mario Sorrenti. It is the first exhibition of its kind,
celebrating the innovation and diversity of current fashion portraiture.
Fashion photography dominates our visual culture. Never has it been so prevalent, pervasive and wide-ranging, incorporating as subjects not only the most popular professional models but also our greatest actors, musicians, sporting heroes, filmmakers, designers and dancers. With the boundaries between advertising, editorial and fine art now blurred, the world's most famous fashion photographers are shaping our ideas of beauty, sexuality and fame.
Sometimes supporting a glamorous aesthetic, sometimes subverting it, fashion photography is at the height of its powers and its leading exponents among the great image-makers of our time. Mert & Marcus, Corinne Day, Steven Klein, Paolo Roversi and Mario Sorrenti are each unique and distinctive in style. Together these portraits explore the intimacy that exists between photographer and the subject and how this relationship, sometimes perceived to be exploitative, frequently empowers both parties.
Corinne Day, an ex-model herself who has famously worked consistently with Kate Moss for 15 years, collaborates closely with her subjects developing a close rapport which results in some of the most candid portraits in fashion. Her portraits themselves generated much of the anti-glamour zeitgeist of the 1990s.
Steven Klein often creates complex and dark narratives in his portraits, including a 'family' sequence with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in which they knowingly mock their perceived personas. He is widely acknowledged as one of the most subversive and transgressive of contemporary fashion photographers.
Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott are famous for their off-beat but glamorous portraits of stars such as Kate Moss, Uma Thurman, Drew Barrymore and Björk. Producing a strange, and at times anxious, intensity in their constructed images, they create pure fantasy for the modern age.
By contrast, Paolo Roversi uses traditional studio techniques and stage lighting to create naturalistic, fragile portraits of his subjects, among them Sting, Juliette Binoche and Charlotte Gainsbourg. Influenced by nineteenth-century portrait photographers such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Roversi revels in an ethereal, soulful beauty.
Mario Sorrenti is fascinated by people's faces and the passions, fears and vulnerabilities they are capable of communicating. Equally adept at endorsing conventional notions of glamour as he is at subverting them, Sorrenti embodies much of the ambiguity of today's fashion photography.
Face of Fashion is curated by Susan Bright, independent curator and writer, author of Art Photography Now, published in 2005 by Thames & Hudson. The exhibition installation is designed by David Adjaye and opens with London Fashion Week 2007.
Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery says: 'Face of Fashion offers the chance to enjoy great photographic portraits away from the bustle of the magazine page - we can see stars transformed through their collaboration with these photographers.'
Susan Bright, Curator of Face of Fashion says: 'The diversity of the photographers featured in Face of Fashion shows that the fashion magazine remains a vibrant place for portraiture, and that the work we see there deserves a considered examination.'
Coinciding with our Face of Fashion exhibition, Individuals: 20 Portraits from the Gap Collection (12 February - 28 May 2007) brings together 20 stunning portraits of leading authors, actors and musicians by eminent photographers including Herb Ritts, Annie Leibovitz and Albert Watson.
A lavishly illustrated book, designed by Thomas Manss & Company, will accompany the exhibition. It includes full plate reproductions of the portraits in the exhibition, together with essays by Susan Bright and Vince Aletti, critic and journalist, writing for publications including Aperture, the New Yorker, Photoworks and Photographs. It is published by the National Portrait Gallery price £35 hardback.
Notes to Editors:
Press images can be downloaded from www.npg.org.uk/press. For further press information please contact: Neil Evans, Press Office,
National Portrait Gallery Tel 020 7312 2452 or 07790 428638 Email email@example.com; or
Catherine Bromley, Press Office, National Portrait Gallery Tel 020 7321 6620 Email