Described by Richard Avedon as, “a genius, the master of us all”, George Hoyningen-Huene (often known simply as Huene) was one of the most important practitioners of his time, whose influence on fashion photography was both seismic and enduring.
Born in St. Petersburg, in 1900, Huene and his family fled the country during the Russian revolution, and he eventually settled in Paris in the early 1920s. At the time, the city was a hub of creativity, and Huene honed his craft amongst the luminaries of art, fashion, design, film, and high society many of whom became his close friends and in some cases, collaborators (including the surrealist master, Man Ray).
Infused with elements of modernism, neoclassicism, and surrealism, his captivating portraits, and meticulously-arranged studio compositions garnered widespread recognition and acclaim, and from the mid-20s onwards he served as one of the leading photographers for Vogue and Vanity Fair, and later, after relocating to New York City, Harper’s Bazaar.
Over the years, he cast his graceful and perceptive gaze over exclusive couture creations by the likes of Balenciaga and Chanel and photographed some of the most notable figures of the period, including Hollywood stars, Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn, and Ava Gardner.
Outside of his studio, he photographed extensively during his travels, resulting in the publication of five books: African Mirage, the Record of a Journey; Hellas (1943); Egypt (1943); Mexican Heritage (1946); and Baalbek/Palmyra (1946).
Upon his death from a stroke in 1968, he bequeathed his life’s work to his close friend and mentee, Horst P. Horst, thus ensuring his archive would be carefully maintained. Following Horst’s death in 1999, his adopted son became the custodian, and some two decades later, art collectors Tommy and Åsa Rönngren, have taken on the task of cataloging and digitizing the diverse contents of the archive and developing projects in order “to share George Hoyningen-Huene’s beautiful photographs with new audiences around the world”.
To celebrate and inaugurate their exclusive UK representation of his estate, London gallery Atlas presents their first exhibition of Hoyningen-Huene’s work. It comprises rarely seen prints from the archives (a number of which are being publicly exhibited for the first time) alongside exquisite large platinum palladium prints, made under Horst’s instruction, and, for the first time ever in the UK, several large-scale platinum palladium prints from a limited-edition series launched by the Estate Archives in 2020.
All images © The George Hoyningen-Huene Estate Archives, courtesy of Atlas Gallery