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Kimiko Yoshida, KyotoKimiko (Waves/Torero)

Iridescent Beauty: Fashion and Identity

Iridescent Beauty: Fashion and Identity

Cathleen Naundorf and Kimiko Yoshida

“I don’t do fashion. I am fashion.” – Coco Chanel

The concept of fashion is that of being a great communicator of ideas, enabling creative expression for anyone who chooses to display their personas through clothing, as well as elucidating a simple way to represent identity and social class. In recent times, the expressive power and historical importance of fashion has been highlighted by an escalating number of significant museums acquiring works of fashion into their permanent collections, legitimizing the value of those that design “haute couture” as fine art. To document this, photographers who worked in the design and marketing industries captured and helped broadcast the energy of fashion as it evolved through time. They have produced a record of the way clothing was used to communicate visually and established a genre in photography that became a meaningful way to disseminate the creative and artistic spirit of fashion itself.

Photographers Cathleen Naundorf and Kimiko Yoshida have created highly original bodies of work using clothes as a means of expression. Naundorf strives for elegance, creating dreamy atmospheres that reference the passage of time, the patina of age, alluding to the rich history of the hand-made haute couture archives, including Dior, Chanel, and Valentino. Yoshida’s methodology for portraiture; frontal, square, and always using herself as a subject, allows the artist to experiment with clothing as objective signifiers that take on new and original meaning. The use of color, subject matter, garments, and objects to create vivid, layered conceptual self-portraits explore cultural identity and the function of fashion and art in Yoshida’s work. Rich, artisanal, and alluring, both photographers choose divergent ways of using fashion in their aesthetic, building unique visual languages that address the world of fine art and high fashion.

Cathleen Naundorf, born in Germany in 1968, moved to Munich to study painting and photography, and later apprenticed in New York, Singapore, and Paris. Naundorf shared the same hometown of Weißenfels with one of fashion photography’s most significant participants, Horst P. Horst, who she would later meet and who would become a mentor for her and her creative vision. Naundorf’s ability to create seductive and powerful images would lead her to be sought after by Vogue and Glamour magazines, quickly becoming a leading photographer in the world of fashion. With an analog large format camera, Naundorf uses the tactile quality of polaroid film material to create texture and reference the vibrant colors and time-worn effects of paintings. Her black & white polaroid negatives are turned into silver gelatin handmade photographs that further accentuate the unique, artisanal images. Naundorf meticulously selects often mysterious locations for her shoots that compliment the exclusive haute couture she uses, as well as diligently researching all of the different aspects of a session before a shoot. Naundorf’s photographs combine imposing architectural facades, serving as backdrops for brilliantly presenting the work of some of the most celebrated designers in fashion of the 20th century.

Kimiko Yoshida was born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1963. Feeling oppressed as a woman, she left Japan in 1995 and moved to France to pursue her artistic ambitions, exploring one of the dominant and most discussed paradigms in contemporary art; the search for identity or the notion of “self.” Kimiko Yoshida’s examination of self-portraiture, which denies ego and fixed identity, explores this genre from a unique perspective. Yoshida’s conceptually driven self-portraits create boundless reincarnations of the photographer. In photograph after photograph, Yoshida transforms herself through a variety of cultural objects, fashionable garments, and bold use of color while concealing her core persona through countless visual iterations. The photographer creates multidimensional images that are symbolic, visually striking, and culturally motivated, challenging the prevailing notions of identity and the self-portrait in innovative and resonant ways.

Both transcending the traditional commercial interests of fashion photography, Yoshida and Naundorf use their work to further the discourse of fashion photography. Their poetic and conceptual iterations challenge the accepted functions of fashion and show new and remarkable ways to construct and present images that are creative, elegant, and elusive, challenging the formulaic spreads of magazines and expanding the expressive potential for fashion photography as fine art.

The clothes in finality neither make nor define the person – just as the person cannot be defined by their clothes. Instead, clothing is used as a tool giving a further expressive component in building a complex picture that can sustain multiple interpretations. Clothing covers and obscures a person but also projects connotations that wearers use to comment on who they are and how they wish to be seen. In Yoshida and Naundorf’s quest for meaning and relationships, fashion provides a context to help establish identity.

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RSVP to Kimiko Yoshida’s talk on February 22, 2020.

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Start: February 22
End: March 18

Past Exhibitions

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November 2018

01
November
Thursday

 

Seeing Spaces: Four Photographers Viewing Architecture

November 1, 2018December 8, 2018

    Beginning over a century ago, pioneers of photography began to examine and represent architecture as an idea and rich subject, creating a niche in the field of photography that explores the profound relationships we have to our three-dimensional surroundings, structures we dwell and work in, as well as spaces developed for cultural use. Seeing Spaces profiles the work of four contemporary photographers who treat various aspects of architecture to investigate atmosphere, memory, and narrative. These artists expand photography’s…

December 2018

15
December
Saturday

 

The Modern Eye

December 15, 2018January 16, 2019

The development of Modernism in the arts parallels the rise of the modern industrial society. Photography is finding a mature voice and the quasi-painterly influence of Pictorialism that set its foundations have been set aside in favor of a more dynamic, sharp focus composition with hard lines, repetitive forms and creative camera angles. The contents of photographs, as well as their strength to comment on contemporary society, give them a richer and multi-dimensional voice in the development of the visual…

January 2019

19
January
Saturday

 

Michael Eastman

January 19February 23

Michael Eastman’s evocative photographs capture architectural interiors and facades throughout the world’s fabled epicenters of culture; Havana, Milan, Buenos Aires, Lisbon. As profiles of various structures, the pictures also showcase the ravages of time amidst their grandeur, presenting profiles loyal to all of the organic imperfections caused by the passage of time and use. Michael Eastman’s photography emphasizes, through painterly technique, a sense of quiet admiration, and unapologetic sincerity, the human stages for political, social, and cultural interaction and the…

March 2019

09
March
Saturday

 

David Yarrow: Off Road & After Hours

March 9April 20

Renowned photographer David Yarrow, infamous for his dramatic, immersive images, continues to push himself to create challenging and consequential pictures. As a totally integral part of his photographic process, David Yarrow hunts for his momentous photographs through meticulous research and preparation for a shoot. Figuring out how to surmount physical and logistical challenges, he works to either construct or find special pictures, and although weeks or months may have been necessary to create a picture, he works relentlessly to find…

April 2019

27
April
Saturday

 

Fashion Forward

April 27August 31

JL Modern Gallery’s exhibition, “Fashion Forward” is an abbreviated survey of fashion-based photography created over the last 60 years. With the advent of commercially viable fashion and lifestyle magazines, such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Elle, and Le Jardin des Modes, to name a few, the upper middle class and the wealthy had a visual resource that helped broadcast and popularize fashion as an upper-class distinction and privilege. These international magazines starting in the 1930s employed a group of talented photographers…