Vince Aletti is a writer, curator, and critic whose work appears regularly in such publications as Artforum, photograph, and Aperture. Aletti was art editor and photography critic of the Village Voice from 1994 to 2005 and reviewed photography exhibitions for the New Yorker’s “Goings On About Town” section from 2005 to 2016. He is the author of The Disco Files 1973-78: New York’s Underground, Week by Week (2009, reissued 2018) and coauthor of Avedon Fashion 1994-2000 (2009). In 2005, he won the International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Writing. He lives and works in New York’s East Village.
Acclaimed photography critic Vince Aletti has selected 100 significant magazine issues from his expansive personal archive, revealing images by photographers rarely seen outside their original context. With his characteristic élan and featuring stunning images, Aletti has created a fresh, idiosyncratic, and previously unexplored angle on the history of photography.
Issues, a luxury, oversized object, richly illustrated with brilliant reproductions, and enclosed in an elegant archival-style magazine-file box, is an essential addition to every book collection on photography, fashion, and graphic design.
It’s the first survey to explore the history of photography through the lens of fashion magazines, spanning the years 1925 to 2018. Magazines featured include American, British, and French Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, W, Details, Purple Fashion, The Face, Dutch, and many more.
How did the book come about? A book about the role of fashion magazines in the history of photography is something that’s been on my mind ever since I started collecting them and realizing what a wealth of material they contained – much of it unseen outside those pages. I started collecting because I was curious to see the careers of Avedon and Penn in more depth. The magazines had pictures that had never been anthologized or exhibited and those pictures helped fill out each photographer’s history, as well as the careers of other great photographers from Lisette Model, Brassai, and Bill Brandt to Horst, Beaton, and Helmut Newton.
In 2009, working with Carol Squiers on the International Center of Photography exhibition of contemporary fashion work called “Weird Beauty,” we realized the importance of seeing the images in context. Because very few fashion photographs were meant to be seen isolated from the stories they were shot for, we made a point of showing them on the page, in extended sequences. There were only a few framed images in the show; the rest were tear sheets on the walls. Many of the photographers we included in the show – Nick Knight, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Mario Testino, Collier Schorr, Steven Klein, Steven Meisel, all important names in the fashion press – had never shown their editorial work in a museum exhibition before.
Vince Aletti on the vital history of fashion magazines (⇒)
Walter Pfeiffer: Cherchez la femme! (Edition Patrick Frey, 2007)
BILL 1 / Julie Peeters (editor): (Roma Publication, 2017)
Sonia Voss: Les libertés intérieures, Photographie est-allemande (1980-1989) (Éditions Xavier Barral, 2019)