Genre-defining doesn't come close to describing George Hoyningen-Huene's catalog of work, capturing fashion, portraiture, and travel unlike anyone before him and setting the stage for those who came after.
George Hoyningen-Huene: Photography, Fashion, Film, by Susanna Brown and The George Hoyningen-Huene Estate Archives, is the first publication dedicated to the great photographer's work in over 40 years. It presents the reader with Huene's photography journey, providing a great depth of insight into an icon of fashion photography through his famous images, previously unseen photographs, and personal correspondence.
Huene started his photography career photographing for Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, which at the time were far removed from our modern understanding of these fashion powerhouses. Fashion photography was solely commerce-based during this period, and not the creative outlet for art and design we see today. Huene's early work with publications like Vogue helped establish this new direction.
"His early photographs for Vogue were shaped by influences from both the classical world and the machine age," Susanna Brown writes in the book's introduction. "A deep artistic sensibility and a talent for sculpting the body with light enabled him to create graceful fantasies that transcend the magazine page and transport us to a bygone era of glamor".
Glamor is the perfect word to describe Huene's work, as it is evident from his images that every aspect of the subject, location, framing, and lighting is taken into consideration. Huene took a lot of his inspiration from cinema and photographed portraits of Hollywood stars with a similar approach to his fashion work. Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, and Bette Davis are but a few of the subjects that were elegantly captured by Huene's lens.
Speaking on her experience working with Huene, Katharine Hepburn is quoted as saying, "Texture, line, and simplicity – these were the things he liked – the classic truth".
Ahead of his time in many ways, Huene never truly got to see his work represented as the art it was. Fashion photography was only just being exhibited by museums and galleries shortly before Huene's passing in 1968 but, since then, much of his work has been displayed in solo shows and as part of larger exhibitions around the globe. This brought new audiences to his work and led to the discovery of much of Huene's previously unseen work outside the realm of fashion.
Showcased in the book are images from projects that show Huene's extended interests, such as travel, landscape, and his foray into motion pictures that although differ in subject, are still captured with his signature statuesque elegance.
George Hoyningen-Huene: Photography, Fashion, Film by Susanna Brown and The George Hoyningen-Huene Estate Archives is published by Thames & Hudson and is available for pre-order directly from the publisher, as well as Amazon US ($100) and Amazon UK (£75).
Over the 328 pages are 300 images, with accompanying texts by writers from the worlds of fashion, cinema, and photography. This book is fantastic and provides a deeper insight into the work and personal life of one of the great photographers – one that perhaps doesn't get the recognition he deserves.
As William A Ewing states in the foreword, "Huene made photographs that transcended their utilitarian function and stood the test of time", and it's hard to disagree.