George Hoyningen-Huene (1900–1968) is acknowledged as an iconic pioneer in the genre of fashion photography. His elegant pared-down style has had a dramatic impact on photographers around the world and his work continues to have relevance today, as an artist who created some of the most striking photographic portraits and compositions of the twentieth century.
Huene’s unique, innovative and artistic vision made him a leader in fashion photography. He was one of the first to capture the style of the haute couture fashion houses of Paris, including Chanel, Balenciaga and the jeweler Cartier. He quickly rose to the position of Chief Photographer at Condé Nast’s French Vogue. His keen eye for elegance, sophistication, and the ease with which he moved in aristocratic circles, introduced him to some of the most beautiful women of the day, many of whom would become his models. These included the Swedish dancer, Lisa Fonssagrives, the world’s first supermodel, who later married the American photographer Irving Penn.
Huene was both intoxicated and inspired by the light and poetic beauty of Greece, as well as by its classical architecture. This became a recurring theme throughout his photographic career. He incorporated classical Grecian influences in his beautiful, carefully balanced images, often employing painted backdrops of imaginary vistas. A perfect example of this unique style is to be found in his iconic picture, Divers (1930). Huene created a world of elegance and produced some of the defining images of the genre.
When asked to choose her favorite Vogue photographs from the magazine’s long history, editor Anna Wintour included Huene’s Divers, alongside images by Edward Steichen, Horst P. Horst, Lee Miller, Irving Penn and Cecil Beaton. Huene was at the centre of a circle of international practitioners responsible for shaping the look and style of the 1930’s and beyond. He was also one of the first fashion photographers to use male models in photo shoots.
George Hoyningen-Huene will be remembered for his unmatched talent in balancing color, form, light and shadow, and for the neo-classical atmosphere that infused his images. Many of his timeless photographic masterpieces can be seen today in the collections of the world’s leading museums.