A beautiful image
curated by Walter Guadagnini
in collaboration with Horst Estate, USA e Paci Contemporary, Brescia
Eighty years ago, in 1939, Horst P. Horst decided to leave Europe and move to the Unites States, sensing that the tragedy of war was drawing closer:
“I left the studio at four in the morning, went home, took my luggage and took the 7 am train for Le Havre to board the ‘Normandie’. We all felt that war was imminent. Too many weapons, too much talk. And we knew that whatever was going to happen, life was not going to be the same. In Paris, I had found a family and a way of life. Clothes, books, my apartment, everything had to be let go”.
It is a dramatic moment in which all the bonds arduously built in France by the photographer – born in Weissenfels, Germany in 1906 – are broken, and a new life begins, in a new world. The last Parisian image by Horst is one of the most iconic photographs of the 20th century, the Mainbocher Corset, a masterpiece of elegance and seduction as well as the skillful use of light and shape, that has a central role in the exhibition that Palazzo Magnani dedicates to the great photographer, who passed away twenty years ago in 1999, in Palm Beach in the US.
The show presents the milestones of Horst’s life and career: renowned photographs, like Odalisque, and shots for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, which made him a leading light of fashion photography worldwide from the 1930s to the 1950s. Also on display are Horst’s portraits of the Parisian artist community in the 1930s – a gallery of intellectual celebrities from Jean Cocteau to Salvador Dali – as well as the colour photographs which attracted appreciation at the artist’s retrospective at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum in 2015.