“Zeitgeist Becomes Form”

The ritzy aloofness that once pervaded fashion photography is gone. Taking its place are the Springtime-for-Hitler, Toys-‘R’n’t-Us Guignol of David Levinthal’s fantasy images and the purported Rent realism of Nan Goldin’s careless mode. As politically correct journalists admonish fashion for its pursuit of flawless beauty, fashion photography has shifted from dream to psychosis.

“Zeitgeist Becomes Form: German Fashion Photography 1945–1995,” Curated by F. C. Gundlach, a former fashion photographer, observes the baleful transfiguration in German fashion photography in particular. Especially early on, there are genuine highlights in the show, like Willy Maywald’s outdoor photographs of Christian Dior in the late ’40s. Maywald, the House of Dior’s official photographer, offers these as black and white testimonials to the designer’s Venus of Willendorf optimism. Other postwar joys are Paris

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