By Kenneth Richard | The Impressionist

A quick flip through the pages of fashion photography history and one will notice a sudden shift in the 70’s with imagery being liberated from the confines of control studio spaces. The lead liberator was none other than Arthur Elgort, a master craftsman of film with the ability to capture his subjects in memorable snapshot moments paving the way for everyone from Steven Meisel to Inez & Vinoodh.

His work is currently being celebrated in a new book (The Big Picture, published by Steidl) and in an exhibition at the Staley-Wise Gallery in New York, which opens today and runs through January 10th.

Arthur’s photographs have about them the ease of a personal snap while creating pictures that have become thoroughly iconic. [Arthur] has an inquiring, roving eye that is always on the lookout for sudden unexpected moments to keep the pictures sparkling fresh.

Grace Coddington
Creative Director, American Vogue

Arthur’s relationship with Vogue preceded that of Anna Wintour and both he and Grace Coddington, who writes a forward for The Big Picture, were two rising stars; she wisely kept him on board post Grace Mirabella’s reign. Arthur went on to capture for Vogue and Vanity Fair some of the most memorable fashion images and biggest style icons of our time from Kate Moss to Linda Evangelista to Christy Turlington. His relaxed “snap shot” and irreverent style made him a favorite with supermodels of the era who had previously been confined to curated shoots and mannequin poses.

Born and raised in New York, the city too became a subject and Arthur was an unwitting champion to ‘street style.’ He studied painting at Hunter College, but soon moved on to teach himself photography.  His fashion work made its 1971 debut in British Vogue, creating a sensation and launching his career which included photographing ad campaigns from Yves Saint Laurent to Oscar de la Renta.

As one can see from the exhibit of his work, Arthur not only understood the big picture he went on to create it. “The Big Picture” (Steidl, $98).


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