PDN Photo of the Day

Adolf de Meyer’s “Quicksilver Brilliance”

A new show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York explores the work of Baron Adolf de Meyer, a pioneering member of the international photography community at the end of the 19th century, known for his groundbreaking fashion photography and delicate Pictorialist portraits of well know figures. “Quicksilver Brilliance,” which opens today and runs until March 18, presents more than 40 photographs and objects related to de Meyer’s life, including photographs he made in India, Greece, Spain and Japan, copies of Camera Work, Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue that featured his work (he was the latter’s first full time photographer, starting in 1914), and portraits of stars ranging from Josephine Baker to the socialite Rita de Acosta Lydig, who posed for artists including Edward Steichen and John Singer Sargent. The show also includes a book—one of only seven known to exist—which documents Vaslav Nijinsky’s scandalously suggestive 1912 ballet “L’Après-midi d’un faune.” Although his deeply romantic approach to fashion photography had gone out of style by the time he died in 1946, de Meyer’s influence can still be widely felt. “Where once fashion photography was stiff and awkward, he introduced dreamy, beautifully lit works, the better to flatter his clients,” Vogue wrote recently. And none other than Cecil Beaton called de Meyer “the Debussy of photography.”

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