Allure [frz. Stil, Eleganz]
“Allure is something that does exist. Allure holds you...whether it's a gaze or a glance in the street or a face in a crowd...it pervades...you are captured by it.” Diana Vreeland, Fashion journalist
It shimmers quietly and timelessly from among all the rapidly changing fashions, trends and opinions. It appears only briefly in a fleeting combination of elegance, grace and movement. Stance, attitude or allure is intangible, indescribable inconceivable and unattainable in the perpetual white noise of our zeitgeist. Yet it is the essence that radiates from deep within. It oscillates between coolness and naturalness, with a fascinating mixture of staging and authenticity. However, the more it becomes a theme in itself, shifting into focus, the more it dissipates. Should one wish to grasp it, or seek an explanation, it dissolves. Yet how can the fragile, immaterial character of allure be held photographically? Photographers constantly take on this challenge anew—with the goal of capturing this ephemeral phenomenon, sometimes spontaneously, at other times as a visual composition.
Whether fashion photography, street photography, reportage or conceptual approaches—the respective working context of the individual photos in not significant in this compilation of the Susanne von Meiss Collection. Instead, all the photographs share the absence of the direct gaze of the person portraited into the camera and the subtle play with the hidden and the mysterious—that goes beyond sex or gender. Hence the main focus lies on detail views of individual parts of the body and accessories, as well as on silhouettes, movement or concealment. The individual photographs do not tell any explicit stories. They do not contain any direct narrative. They serve as diverse projection films for the viewers and their interpretation.
The Susanne von Meiss Collection representatively covers all genres and styles in the history of photography—from the 1920s through to the present. It includes works by internationally renowned photographers, however for the main part it does not give preference to the iconic photographs but rather to unknown classics. The personal selection ranges from Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Rene Burri and Henri Cartier-Bresson through Horst P. Horst, Irving Penn, Paolo Roversi and August Sander to contemporary artists such as Tracey Emin, Nan Goldin, Daido Moriyama, Richard Prince and Juergen Teller.
The group exhibition is divided thematically into three chapters: “pose”, “experiment” and “staging the situative”. The photographs serve as a starting point for an art-historical analysis and observation, from an inner perspective, within the medium of photography.
The collection will be presented to the public for the first time at C/O Berlin. The exhibition encompasses approximately 250 photographs—including many unique and vintage prints, as well as photographs that were produced especially for the Susanne von Meiss Collection. The presentation has been curated by Felix Hoffmann and Birgit Filzmaier. A publication will be issued by Kehrer Verlag to accompany the exhibition.
Two vintage photographs by Richard Avedon from the 1950s were the initial inspiration for the Susanne von Meiss Collection. For 25 years now, the Swiss journalist, publicist and entrepreneur has been collecting photography with the special focus on “allure”—a personal compilation that transcends individual genres, styles and artists. The private collection currently includes approximately 400 works from Japan to South America. The art historian Birgit Filzmaier is curator and supervisor of the Susanne von Meiss Collection.