Horst P. Horst (German/American, 1906-1999)
Variation of Electric Beauty, 1939, printed after 1990, from the Tibet Portfolio, published by Tibet House, New York. Signed l.r., artist's copyright stamp on the verso, titled, and inscribed "...Paris 1939/Tibet Portfolio/Platinum Palladium" in pencil on the verso. Platinum palladium print, image size 12 3/4 x 10 1/4 in. (32.4 x 26.0 cm), sheet size 15 3/4 x 13 in. (40.0 x 33.0 cm), matted, unframed.
Provenance: A gift from the artist to the current owner.
N.B. A departure from his renowned fashion work for Vogue, Horst's Electric Beauty is undoubtedly the photographer's most daring leap into Surrealism. Shot in Paris 1939, Horst had worked closely that year with Salvador Dalí, photographing for the artist's Dream of Venus exhibit at the World's Fair, as well as Dalí's costumes for Léonide Massine's ballet, Bacchanal. Like the Dream of Venus photographs, Horst's Electric Beauty and its variations present a dramatic and disturbing beauty paired with unexpected juxtapositions. A woman with her hair pinned up, wrapped in a heat mask and towel, holding a heat lamp and hair dryer, feet soaking, leg lathered in shaving cream, is perilously close to becoming a victim to her own beauty routine. A scene from Hieronymus Bosch's disconcerting Temptation of Saint Anthony looks on from the background as the woman endures the tortures of what makes a modern beauty. With his model rendered faceless and her artifice revealed, Horst created a Surrealist scene while still maintaining a dialog with his fashion photography.
The Year of Tibet portfolio was assembled by Richard Gere and Bill Borden for the Gere Foundation, which raises funds for humanitarian organizations and in particular organizations that advocate for the Tibetan people. The Gere Foundation's primary mission is to assist the cultural survival of the Tibetan people through health, technological, and educational projects. The Gere Foundation contributes directly to The Tibet Fund, supporting His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan community-in-exile.
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