March 29, 2012

Phink-spiration: Pre-Raphaelites Past & Present

Here at Ink we like to look down a variety of roads for inspiration. One that came up in conversation yesterday was Grace Coddington, Creative Director for American VOUGE. (Yes, we saw 2009 documentary The September Issue, and yes, we couldn’t help but be in awe of Grace and her creative vision, and yes, we would like to meet her. Soon.)

Coddington recently created a Pre-Raphaelite-inspired work of art titled, The Cult of Beauty, with photographer Steven Meisel for the December 2011 issue of VOUGE. My initial thoughts went immediately to a favorite photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron, but fueled by Coddington’s inspired thinking, we were led deeper into the past.

Julia Margaret Cameron

Photography by Julia Margaret Cameron, circa 1867 - 1872


The history behind the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood is a group of English artists founded in 1848. According to Wikipedia, “They believed that the Classical poses and elegant compositions of Raphael in particular had been a corrupting influence on the academic teaching of art.” They were anti-commomplace and wanted to, “return to the abundant detail, intense colours, and complex compositions of Quattrocento Italian and Flemish art.”

File:John Everett Millais - Ophelia - Google Art Project.jpg

John Everett Millais, Ophelia, circa 1851

File:Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Proserpine.JPG

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Proserpine, 1874

When comparing this traditional painting philosophy with Pre-Raphaelite inspired photographer, Julia Margret  Cameron, it is easy to see the similarities. Cameron, picking up her first camera at 48 years old, considered herself a photo illustrator who often wanted her images to look like oil paintings. Beautifully referencing the complex compositions of the Pre-Raphaelite painters, color was not an option for Cameron at the time. But one look at the VOUGE images and you can see influences from both mediums.

Yet another example of why Coddington is where she is today, and why ink will always look forward to each issue of VOUGE.













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