Vogue Hangs Erwin Olaf's Photography with the Masters
The medium an artist chooses is as important to the work as any other element. The message that the artist is conveying will shift from form to form, and cannot fully be translated into any other. The strength from DaVinci’s David comes from inhabiting the same space as the viewer, where Diane Arbus’ work requires the immediacy and clarity of photography to display what she implored the world to see. But sometimes the lines between mediums get blurred and create a visual tension that tells a deeper story.
Vogue has put together a photographic exhibition of some of their favorite fashion photographers called “Like a painting” that will remain on display in Spain into October. The images chosen include work from Erwin Olaf as well as Irving Penn, Annie Leibovitz, and Peter Lindbegh, bridging the gap between photography and painting. When photography was created as a method of capturing violently short moments and then soon developed into the art of documenting the ephemeral, it was a step away from the time consuming art of painting that demanded true pause. Suddenly energy could be directly translated in a slice of a moment rather than an impression after hours. The images that are included in Vogue’s exhibition bring the same respect for time as a classic Botticelli with the clarity of the finest photography.
As a part of the offering Vogue explains their choices in part by saying, “There are direct references to iconic pieces of art history recalling from the Spanish Golden Age painting to Dutch Portraiture or Impressionism with a common denominator: an atmosphere in which time stops.” Erwin’s photograph, from his series “The Master & the Girl,” reminds us of Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” but Erwin’s work does what a painting cannot. The life that is infused in this frozen moment reaches out from the frame and is so authentic it is almost jarring. Curator Debra Smith explains that each painting shows, “a timelessness in the model’s pose; a kind of gap in the mind, where everything is really, really still.”
Vogue's "Like a painting" is on view at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, Spain through October 15.