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“Beauty Culture†at Annenberg Space for Photography

“Beauty Culture† is an ambitious attempt to focus on fashion and celebrity photography.  Photo by Max Donner.Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This means that museum staff face a tough challenges when presenting an exhibition about the timeless topic of beauty to the beholders of this area.

The recently opened photography exhibition at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City, “Beauty Culture†is an ambitious attempt to illuminate this subject. It may not be a “Perfect 10.†But this show can start more serious coverage of a subject that is paramount in the world of art, but rarely receives serious attention.

A good selection of some of the most creative approaches to photographing beauty and efforts and goals to attain beauty is an effective way to present this subject to a diverse audience. That is essentially whAn exhibtion catalog and related books enhance the exhibtion.  Photo by Max Donner.at the Annenberg Space for Photography has done. While this leaves the challenges of more sophisticated exhibitions on this subject to larger arts institutions, there is more than enough here to literally fill the mid-sized gallery to capacity with visitors. A few highlights will show you why:

– The fashion and beauty product advertising work of several renowned art photographers shows their careers in a new light. The exhibition demonstrates that Herb Ritts and Chuck Close excelled at this medium and that their beauty theme assignments benefited their professional development
– Multiple interpretations of “Barbie†California’s contribution to the global brand of beauty
– Examples of how Marilyn Monroe helped to modernize perceptions of beauty and inspirSynchronized swimmers will show the theme of Beauty through a different lens Thursday, June 2 at the Annenberg Space for Photography‘s IRIS Night.   Photo by Max Donner.e artists like Andy Warhol to elevate the image to an art form

An important topic missing from the exhibition is actually a topic that the Annenberg Space for Photography has been a leader in illuminating in its Thursday night IRIS workshop series. That is talent of key photography models to take direction and work together with photographers, lighting engineers, scenery consultants, agents and clients as a team.

The exhibition includes an excellent benchmark — a 1948 portrait of Elizabeth Taylor by Philippe Halsman. This presentation of one of the most photographed subjects in history helps to portray the qualities of excellence that make the very best portrait photographers artists on a par with legendary portrait painters like John Singer Sargent and Thomas Gainsborough.

While the exhibition’s success owes much to the direction and patronage of Annenberg Foundation CEO Wallis Annenberg, she may have been too modest about one of her other roles — trustee of the University of Southern California.

USC’s “Women of Troy†offer a treasure trove of photographic images of women being admired for the highest standards of beauty by following exactly the same regimen as their male Trojan classmates: “Faithful, Scholarly, Skillful, Courageous and Ambitious.â€

A few portraits of USC alumnae such as political activist Cindy McCain, 1993 national golf champion Jill McGill, and Olympic Gold Medalist Rebecca Soni would add a valuable perspective about the beauty of classic high achievers. This perspective is noticeable by its absence at this exhibition.

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