Take a look at these portraits below…. when would you say they were made? Well it was in 1935 when photographer Madame Yevonde created these masterpieces under the title ‘Goddesses’.
She called in the help of the stars and fashionistas of the time (and what a time) to pose as the heroes and antiheroes of the Greek myths. The stunning and unconventional set-ups lend an eerie and haunting aura to stars and socialites who already had their own myths, airs and graces.
Dubbed at the time a ‘passing fad’, these were early experiments in the burgeoning colour photography scene, with Madame Yevonde setting up her own studio at the tender age of 21 in an arena dominated by men.
These works are featured in an exhibition called Role Play in London this spring. Taking place at the PM Gallery and House, the other half of the gallery is given over to Neeta Madahar who specilases in works based around the beauty of nature, with her project ‘Flora’ blending women and flower arrangements into works of powerful femininity. With both artists together there is a wholesome mix of the light and dark sides of woman’s capacity to enthrall.
With Madame Yevonde’s work there’s something almost supernatural about the way the light blurs and highlights, aswell as the colour doing strange things in it’s infancy on this media. That’s why the subject of Greek goddesses suits this project perfectly. I picked up a postcard of Arethusa (first and featured image) from the Tate Modern gift shop many years back which has become a firm favourite of mine, so have been looking forward to seeing these in the flesh. I suggest anyone interested in photography and fashion do the same.
‘Role Play’ is on at the PM Gallery and House, Walpole Park, London, W5 5EQ from 20 May-3 July.