Norman Parkinson Archive

Norman Parkinson:The Godfather of British Fashion Photography

26 November 2011 to 21 January 2012, Gallery Vassie, Amsterdam


Norman Parkinson:The Godfather of British Fashion Photography

Wenda and ostriches, British Vogue, May 1951

Gallery Vassie is extremely proud to present an exhibition of the work of the legendary British photographer Norman Parkinson.

Although his work has been exhibited extensively and is represented in key Museum and private collections internationally, this will be the first time that Parkinson’s photographs have been exhibited in The Netherlands. The show will include many exceptional, rare and early Vintage Silver prints from the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

This exhibition is a lavish display of Parkinson’s long career as one of the great pioneers of fashion photography. He became famous for his iconic sense of style and glamour, his unexpected and unique approach, brought a freshness to the sometimes staid genres of fashion and portrait photography. Heralded as one of the true innovators in his field, he pushed the boundaries of the day by bringing the model out of the stuffy, rigid studio environment and into a more dynamic outdoor setting. He set the model against unusual and daring backdrops, such as the gritty working-class districts of London and he shot them only in natural light, pioneering ‘action realism’, a photographic style that persists today.

Norman Parkinson was the predecessor of the likes of David Bailey and Brian Duffy, who both shunned his elegance for their own flavour of photography in the 1960s, but who owed much of their success to the trail that Parkinson had literally blazed before them. There is no question that he remains a seminal influence on subsequent generations of fashion photographers.

Many of his most celebrated images, such as, a satin-clad model (actually his stunning wife Wenda), in muted colour, reclining against a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost in 1950 and the happy young couple, with brief-cases in hand, on East River Drive running towards the camera with the New York skyline as their backdrop – can be seen here alongside images that have never before been exhibited. This exhibition displays the legacy that he has left us, which is unquestionable and he will no doubt continue to inspire for generations to come.