Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Cathleen Naundorf at Hamilton’s Gallery

My first encounter with Cathleen Naundorf’s photographic imagery was at the Hamilton’s stand at Paris Photo 2011, the image entitled ‘La fille en plâtre VIII' was on display, a striking and stylish image, I was instantly captivated. I later learnt that she was to have her first U.K solo exhibition at the gallery in March 2012. Due to being out of the country I was unable to attend the private view; however I had a chance to view the exhibition in its final week.

La fille en plâtre VIII,Design Dior 2011,  Cathleen Naundorf (Courtesy-Hamiltons Gallery)

Hamilton’s seems the ideal venue for this rising star of the fashion photography world, a gallery well known for exhibiting many of the great fashion photographers of the past including Penn, Avadon, Horst, Newton to name a few. 

 The show entitled ‘Un Reve de Mode’ is the culmination of six years work by Cathleen Naundorf. The project initially began in 2005 when she visited Jean-Paul Gaultier and asked him if she could lend one or two his dresses to photograph. He was so impressed by the work that he gave her access to his entire collection. Since then she has been shooting for the other main couture fashion houses including Dior, Lacroix, Chanel, Elle Saab and Valentino. Quite uniquely she was given access to choose gowns from the couturiers archives for her elaborate, cinematic productions. and was also granted free choice of models, locations and hair and make-up designers.

  Walking around the gallery what becomes immediately apparent is the scale of the silver gelatin prints on display, ranging in size from 51x35 inches to 72x53 inches.  Its not only their size but the level of detail recorded in these fine prints is quite special, every crease and fold of these elaborate couture dresses is rendered beautifully in rich black and white tones, this in part is due to her impressive technical ability and the use of the now un-available 5x4 and 10x8 polaroid film, capable of resolving a tremendous amount of detail. There are very few contemporary photographic artists who specialise in the use of this type of film, especially the larger 10x8inch format, there is of course Paolo Roversi, however he uses it in quite a different way to Cathleen. Both have an instantly recognisable style which is quite an achievement considering how crowded the world of fashion photography currently is.
 
Valentino en rose, Paris, 2007, Cathleen Naundorf (Courtesy-Hamiltons Gallery)

  
The Evolution of Fashion I, Dior 2004,  Cathleen Naundorf (Courtesy Hamilton’s Gallery)
  
The Evolution of Fashion II, Dior 2004,  Cathleen Naundorf (Courtesy Hamilton’s Gallery)


Untitled, Dior 2007, Paris, 2007 Cathleen Naundorf Naundorf, (Courtesy Hamilton’s Gallery)

   Cathleen started her career in art with formations in sculpture and painting at the Halle/Salle Academy of fine arts and later photography at the school of decorative arts in Munich in the late 1980’s. Indeed much of her current work is rooted in painting in terms of the way she lights and poses her models, preferring to use natural daylight where possible. The Parisisian light is famous for creating some of the most memorable fashion images of the 20th Century; Irving Penn’s exquisite ‘Woman with Roses on her Arm’ is a perfect example.

It was in the mid nineties that her long term friendship Horst P.Horst, the legendary fashion German/American photographer, inspired and helped her find her own photographic voice and identity. Her technique is slow and methodical, before each shoot she conducts intensive research, creates handmade journals in order to develop story boards: archive photos, record text including interviews with the couturiers, extracts can be found in her recently published book ‘Haute Couture: The Polaroids of Cathleen Naundorf’ which  showcases her colour and black and white polaroid imagery. The book is well printed and is a good opportunity to view more of her stunning work.











A number of the colour prints are polariod tranfers onto watercolor paper, an alternative printing technique that works prefectly wtih her imagery. You can read more about how to do the process here 

 
For further infomation visit :

 Cathleen's Website : www.cathleennaundorf.com
 Ira  Stehmann : http://www.irastehmann.com/
 Hamiltons Gallery  http://www.hamiltonsgallery.com/

 P.S Cathleen will be signing her book on the 14th June 2012  at the  Sofitel Hotel, 15 rue Boissy d'Anglas, Paris 8ème - Starting 7 pm

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