The 1930s

Horst P. Horst


A small part of his biography from horstphorst.com 


In the history of twentieth-century fashion and portrait photography, Horst's contribution figures as one of the most artistically significant and long lasting, spanning as it did the sixty years between 1931 and 1991. During this period, his name became legendary as a one-word photographic byline, and his photographs came to be seen as synonymous with the creation of images of elegance, style and rarefied glamour.

Born on 14 August 1906, Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann was the second son of a prosperous middle class Protestant shop owner, Max Bohrmann and his wife, Klara Schoenbrodt. 

The first pictures that carried a Horst credit line appeared in the December 1931 issue of French Vogue. It was a full-page advertisement showing a model in black velvet holding a Klytia scent bottle in one hand with the other hand raised elegantly above it... Horst's real breakthrough as a published fashion and portrait photographer was in the pages of British Vogue... starting with the 30 March 1932 issue showing three fashion studies and a full-page portrait of the daughter of Sir James Dunn, the art patron and supporter of Surrealism. 

War was declared between America and Germany on 7 December 1941. Horst was called up for service, though he was not officially enrolled until July 1943. The late 1930s and early 1940s were his most productive years, during which he excelled at working with 10-x-8 inch colour transparencies both for covers and for portrait and fashion sittings...

As a typical example of wartime escapism, the Rita Hayworth film Cover Girl (1944) provided Horst with the opportunity to produce one of his most sumptuous film-star covers in a montage of seven different portraits of the cover girl Susann Shaw set against a silk design. His picture of Loretta Young became an almost immediate classic when it was featured in a special edition of Vogue which included masterpieces of photography selected by (classic photographer Edward) Steichen to show off the first hundred years of the medium. 



Madame Jose Maria Sert in the costume she wore at Le Bal Oriental, 1935


Eyes, hands and painting, 1936

Fashion - Model in Robert Piguet design, 1936

Mainbocher dress, 1936

Looking at these photos it does feel like Horst had a really distinctive style, shooting on 10x8 and creating contrasty black and white images. I do think with this project I do need to consider the great fashion photographers, because I do want to shoot a range of vintage images. Although Horst shot until the 90s here I am concentrating on the images he made in the 1930s. Perhaps I will look at his later work throughout my research for my other eras. I really wanted to accumulate a good body of research for each decade I am looking at, so I will be confident with making appropriate hair pieces and the hair and make up. These photos are very dark, which I will consider with the making of this image. Maybe I will be lighting it more contrasty?


1930s Actresses 

Jean Harlow 




I really love the first image with Harlow staring up, I think it is dramatic and the blur on it is really nice. Her hair is the looser finger wave with the curls tighter at the bottom, like on the last image. She has the red lips and the thin eyebrows. I really like on the last image how they start further back than her eyes. I think this is quite traditional of the 1930s. 



Marlene Dietrich




The first image of Marlene Dietrich I really like, I think her small eyes and thin eyebrows are really interesting, maybe this is the type of girl I want to cast? I like how the light is coming from directly above her, with the strong shadow under the nose. In the other images she does have the loose wave, I like in the second one how it is quite smooth on the top and then tight curls on the bottom. The third is much shorter, but the side parting and swoop on the top is really nice. 



Fay Wray




The top image of Fay Wray I have chosen really caught my attention because the middle parting seems so different to all the side partings I have researched with era. I think it looks pretty/ugly, and is really quirky. It could be something to experiment with. I like how long her eyebrows are, and that the lips do not have loads of red on them. The black is quite minimal on her eyes in all of these shots. The second image is very contrasty, and I do like the way the light is coming from the left on the third image. 

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