Culture: Vogue Like a Painting Exhibit

You can try and deny it but to us, there is no doubt that fashion is art. Whether through a Valentino couture dress, a Roger Vivier heel or a photograph taken by Tim Walker, fashion means creativity and it’s able to turn any element into a piece of art.

Proving the two are a perfect pair, the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum in Madrid is presenting an exhibition on photography titled: ‘Vogue like a painting’. The exhibition features sixty-one images inspired by classical paintings that were selected from the archives of Vogue magazine and taken by some of the leading names in photography of the past three decades. From Irvin Penn, Anne Leibovitz, Peter Lindbergh to Mario Testino or Tim Walker, the lens of these photographers easily converted the images to now literal pieces of art.

We all want to know, how do they do it? Some make use of sculptural relief, while in others the light acquires a painterly quality. There are examples of photographs inspired by the Renaissance and Rococo, while perhaps the finest look to the Pre-Raphaelites. Many of the selected photographs bring to mind specific paintings, references and artists including Vermeer, Hopper, Millais, Balthus, Van Eyck, Botticelli, Zurbarán, Degas, Sargent, Dalí, Hogarth, Rossetti and Magritte.

Yolanda Sacristán, editor in chief of Spanish Vogue, explains that: “Vogue was the forerunner of fashion photography when, in the 1920s, it began to replace illustrated front covers with photographic images by artists as revolutionary as Edward Steichen, who had been experimenting with fashion photography since 1911. It was he, together with other great Vogue photographers principally Cecil Beaton, Horst P. Horst and Irving Penn who transformed the genre into an exceptional art form, paving the way for modern photography.”

Where and when? Madrid, Museo Thyssen Bornemisza until 12 October 2015.
For more information check out their website,

About the Author

Julia Urgel is a journalist and producer based in Madrid who contributes to a multitude of magazines –Marie Claire México, Vanidades México, Gentleman Spain and writing about fashion, celebrities and beauty. With an MBA in fashion -and a future PhD in fashion too- she is a university proffesor at Centro Universitario Villanueva and director of the specialization course Wedding Event Planner. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @julia_urgel