Sunday, March 23, 2008

Review: Vanity Fair Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery

Vanity Fair was launched in 1913 by Condé Nast, whose vision was to produce an insightful magazine reflecting the era’s vibrant culture

Now 150 portraits of artistic, literary, sporting, fashion and high-society leading lights, photographed by legends from Cecil Beaton and Man Ray to Mario Testino and Annie Leibovitz,have been gleaned from its glossy pages to the walls of the National Portrait Gallery

In the early selection from 1913-1936, artists, dancers, writers, and scientists, such as Claude Monet, Albert Einstein, and Charlie Chaplin, hang next to society beauties such as Jean Harlow and Greta Garbo.

 Publication of Vanity Fair was suspended in 1936, owing to the Depression and stormy global events, but it relaunched again in the 1980s. The contemporary photos are more venturesome and we are treated to the likes of Tom Cruise, Keira Knightley, Madonna and George Clooney. And of course who can forget that front cover of a heavily pregnant Demi Moore.

If you're seriously interested in photography you shouldn't miss the Vanity Fair Portraits exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, London, WC2, £8-£10, until May 26th. I thoroughly recommend it.

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