contemporary fashion archive

Exhibition: Archeology of Elegance
date 26.04.2002 – 25.08.2002
location Deichtorhallen Hamburg
creation Deichtorhallen Hamburg (Museum)

text The exhibition “Archeology of Elegance” deals with the correlation between art and fashion of the last 20 years of photography. With around 150 images, it shows the most succinct and influential photographic positions which have visually memorised the 80s and 90s like a kind of time code.

In the past 20 years, there has been a big change in fashion photography. Increasingly, the focus of production is not just the reproducing depiction of clothes and accessories, but the transformation of an attitude, a lifestyle into an image. This tendency can also be seen in the new types of fashion and lifestyle magazines which have established themselves since the 80s with titles such as “Face”, “ID” and “Wallpaper”. Most of the photographers shown in the exhibition are closely connected with the development of these media which define themselves through an attitude. The consequence is a complexity and variety in fashion photography which increasingly situates itself in the field of fine arts, is inspired by it and has even provided ideas to art and popular culture.
The biggest success of fashion photography is presumably its power to define what is characteristic of the respective time. Like no other medium before, it has become the leading medium of our visually-dominated culture; as an authority for socialisation, it shaped the idea of beauty of those people who grew up in the 80s and 90s. The photographs of Herb Ritts, Bettina Rheims or Patrick Demarchelier give wishes, desires and longings a new visual shape.

The exhibition and the accompanying catalogue, which is a production of the Schirmer/Mosel Verlag, attempt to divide the diverse developments of recent fashion photography into four categories. “As a first possible category of orientation, the name punk rock stands for those photographs whose rebellious spirit takes up the energy of the year 1977, further pursues the classical fantasies of sex and drugs and rock’n’roll, and ramifies into trash, anti-glamour and wild, authentic poetry. The second concept, glamour, was a central theme throughout the history of fashion as well as photography, and was rediscovered in the 80s. Its modern, post-modern and nostalgic versions belong to the most luxurious and diverse glister of fashion photography of the past 20 years.

With the approach of the millennium at the latest, high tech and futurism not only became the central motif of fashion photography, but also changed the techniques of production, which themselves turned the aesthetics of the images - thanks to digital processing - upside down: a break in fashion photography in the age of multimedia networking. The fourth category includes all those works which move towards contemporary art or stem from it due to their free and unrestrained settings and intellectual precision”, says Ulf Poschardt, one of the curators of the exhibition in his catalogue texts.

A word-wide exhibition tour starts at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg and is planned for several continents (Europe, USA, Japan).

Miles Aldridge, Thierry van Biesen, Anuschka Blommers & Niels Schumm, Mark Borthwick, Guy Bourdin, Elaine Constantine, Patrick Demarchelier, 2A, Dino Dinco, Sean Ellis, Jérôme Esch, Andrea Giacobbe, Nathaniel Goldberg, Alexei Hay, Steve Hiett, Dominique Issermann, Seb Janiak, Jean-Pierre Khazem, Steven Klein, Nick Knight, David LaChapelle, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh. Matadin, Félix Larher, Mark Lebon, Thierry Le Gouès, Jean-François Lepage, Peter Lindbergh, Serge Lutens, Ali Mahdavi, Robert Mapplethorpe, Toby Mc Farlan Pond, Guido Mocafico, Jean-Baptiste Mondino, Sarah Moon, Jamie Morgan, Marcus Piggott & Mert Alas, Bettina Rheims, Terry Richardson, Herb Ritts, Paolo Roversi, Laurence Sackman, Norbert Schoerner, Stéphane Sednaoui, David Seidner, Taryn Simon, Raf Simons & David Sims, David Sims, Davide Sorrenti, Mario Sorrenti, Vanina Sorrenti, Sølve Sundsbø, Juergen Teller, Ellen von Unwerth, Max Vadukul, Javier Vallhonrat, Camille Vivier, Matthias Vriens, Pierre Winther, James Wojcik

This exhibition is organised by Marion de Beaupré, Stéphane Baumet and Ulf Poschardt and realised in co-operation with MdB productions, Paris.


  1 © Schirmer/Mosel Verlag / Photo: Ines Van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, 2 © Schirmer/Mosel Verlag / Photo: J. Vallhonrat, 3 © Schirmer/Mosel Verlag / Photo: David Lachapelle, 4 © Schirmer/Mosel Verlag / Photo: Nick Knight

participants Raf Simons (Fashion Design)

Hochschule für Gestaltung Pforzheim

top of screen