Vanity Fair suspended publication in 1936, but it would be resurrected in another period of decadence and excess, the 1980s. Once again, its purpose was to record modern men and women of culture, stature and talent and, as in the early period, portrait photography was the graphic bedrock of the magazine.
In the tradition of editor Frank Crowninshield (1914-36), the revived monthly commissioned the world's leading portrait photographers, among them Helmut Newton, Nan Goldin, Herb Ritts, Harry Benson, Mario Testino, Bruce Weber and Annie Leibovitz. From the magazine's re-launch in 1983, the exhibition features the works of these photographers and others, depicting a wide range of subjects from Arthur Miller to Madonna.
Vanity Fair's iconic photographs continue to make news. Since the magazine's re-launch in 1983, cover images including the Reagans dancing (1985), a very pregnant Demi Moore (1991), a formal portrait of President Bush's Afghan War Cabinet (2002) and most recently actresses Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley photographed naked (2006) have been embedded in the collective cultural consciousness and all of which are featured in the exhibition.