London Gallery to Highlight Work of Pioneering Photographer, Yevonde

London Gallery to Highlight Work of Pioneering Photographer, Yevonde

LONDON — The Chanel Culture Fund is thrusting a great female photographer back into the spotlight with an exhibition that will open in June at the newly refurbished National Portrait Gallery.

Called “Yevonde: Life and Colour,” the show will be the largest ever of Yevonde Middleton’s work and the first major exhibition following the reopening of the National Portrait Gallery in June. For the past three years the gallery has been undergoing the biggest redevelopment in its history.

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The exhibition will include more than 25 newly-discovered photographs by Yevonde, a pioneer of color photography in the 1930s. There will be more than 150 works on display, including portraits of some of the most famous faces of the time, including George Bernard Shaw, Vivien Leigh, John Gielgud and Princess Alexandra.

The show, which aims to position Yevonde as a trailblazer in the history of British portrait photography, will also include new prints and discoveries following research into Yevonde’s color negative archive, which was acquired by the gallery in 2021.

The exhibition, which runs from June 22 to Oct. 15, will also include commercial work, commissions and still life photography which the artist produced during her 60-year career.

According to the organizers, the show will “reflect the growing independence of women after the First World War and focus on the freedom that photography afforded Yevonde, who became an innovator in new techniques.”

Cropped and retouched

The portrait photographer Yevonde, pictured with her camera.

Born Yevonde Middleton in 1893, the photographer was known as Madame Yevonde or Yevonde. She died in 1975 and has since inspired many visual artists and designers including Erdem Moralioglu, who used her work as inspiration for his fall 2022 menswear collection.

She established her studio before the outbreak of World War I and saw her work published in magazines including Tatler and the Sketch. Her color photos depicted new freedoms in fashion and lifestyle, and captured the growing independence of women in the first half of the 20th century.

In 2021, Yevonde’s tri-color separation negative archive was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery. The Chanel Culture Fund later supported the extensive research, cataloguing and digitization of the archive, which led to the organization of the upcoming show.

“The Chanel Culture Fund is committed to elevating the voices of women and broadening representation in cultural storytelling,” said Yana Peel, global head of arts and culture at Chanel.

“At this historic reopening of the National Portrait Gallery, we are delighted to extend our tradition of patronage to celebrate Yevonde, a bold innovator who defined what it means to see and be seen, and whose pioneering photography will now inspire future generations,” Peel added.

Clare Freestone, photographs curator at the National Portrait Gallery, said, “Yevonde’s originality, demonstrated through these photographs, traverses almost a century and provides a vision so fresh and relatable.”

It’s set to be a mega-year for Chanel in London.

As reported, the Victoria & Albert Museum is set to stage a major exhibition focused on designer Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel that will open in September.

“Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto” will be the first U.K. exhibition dedicated to the the designer’s life and work. It will look to chart the evolution of Chanel’s designs from the opening of her first millinery boutique in Paris in 1910, to the show of her final collection in 1971.

Featuring more than 180 looks seen together for the first time, the exhibition seeks to explore the designer’s democratic, offbeat approach to fashion, which paved the way for a new way of dressing.

The show will also feature jewelry, accessories, cosmetics and perfumes, the latter of which have generated billions in sales for the house of Chanel since they were launched.

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