star-studded exhibition opens saturday september 26 2009
Opening at the Royal Ontario Museum on September 26 2009 (and running through to January 3 2010), Toronto will host an extraordinary exhibition entitled: Vanity Fair Portraits 1913-2008. This is the first major exhibition to bring together the magazine’s historic archive of rare vintage prints with its contemporary photographs that have made Vanity Fair iconic. Presented by the Bay, and a collaboration between Vanity Fair and the National Portrait Gallery London, the ROM will be the only Canadian venue to display Vanity Fair Portraits, and this will be its first showing in eastern North America.
Throughout its 95-year history, Vanity Fair magazine has helped define the public persona of some of the most influential individuals in the world. The exhibition brings together a collection of captivating images of cultural icons from the magazine’s vintage and modern periods. Sitters range from Claude Monet, Amelia Earheart and Jesse Owens to David Hockney, Arthur Miller and Madonna, as well as legendary Hollywood personalities from Charlie Chaplin and Greta Garbo, to Demi Moore and Tom Cruise. The magazine’s mix of artistic seriousness and popular celebrity means that portraits of writers, artists and leaders of the avant-garde will be displayed alongside images of actors, musicians and athletes, providing a fascinating range of high and popular culture.
A unique glimpse into pop culture during a span of over 9 decades, we take a deeper look into this once and a lifetime art opportunity.
about the exhibition
Vanity Fair Portraits was mounted to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the modern-era magazine and the 95th anniversary of the original magazine’s founding. The exhibition is divided into two parts, 1913-36, the magazine’s early period, and 1983 to the present. In addition to the portraits, the exhibition will include vintage and modern editions of Vanity Fair magazines.
The magazine was launched in 1913 by visionary publisher Condé Nast and editor Frank Crowinshield. From its inception, the magazine strove to engage its cosmopolitan and discerning audience with the vibrant modern culture that sparkled at the beginning of the 20th century. The birth of modernism, the dawning of the Jazz Age, and the 1913 Armory Show that introduced avant-garde art to the American public, all marked the beginning of this sophisticated new era. Vanity Fair magazine became a cultural catalyst, introducing and providing commentary on contemporary artists, personalities and writers.
From vintage to contemporary prints, Vanity Fair Portraits captures viewers’ imagination, taking them on a journey of nearly 100 years of popular culture. The glamour of the golden age of cinema shines in portraits of American actresses Gloria Swanson, Anna May Wong and the Gish sisters; an incandescent portrait of Jean Harlow three years before her death; and beloved icons of the silver screen, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. With a nod to modernity – a significant element of the magazine’s inception – the Jazz Age is represented by classic studies of trumpeter Louis Armstrong and entertainer Josephine Baker. The selection also includes unpublished images, including a portrait of 1930s actress Alice White by Florence Vandamm and a study of Weimar era artist George Grosz by Emil Bieber.
Bringing the exhibition to the 21st century, we are invited to look into the eyes of firefighters near Ground Zero (2001); a powerful image of actress Hilary Swank running on a beach (2004) and Annie Leibovitz’s Hollywood Issue cover (2001), featuring Nicole Kidman, Catherine Deneuve, Meryl Streep, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Vanessa Redgrave, Kate Winslet, Chloe Sevigny, Sophia Loren and Penelope Cruz. From the world of music, portraits of Philip Glass (2002) and Liza Minnelli (2002) are juxtaposed with images of Run DMC (2005) and Radiohead (2000).