FINE ARTS

Yevonde: Life and Colour

National Portrait Gallery Aug. 2023. 240p. ISBN 9781855145634. $49.95. PHOTOG
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Accompanying an exhibition organized by the National Portrait Gallery, UK, this beautifully and extensively illustrated catalogue explores and celebrates the life, work, and influence of British photographer Yevonde Middleton (1893–1975), an innovator in color photography whose long career spanned the pre-WWI era through the 1970s. Her motto was “Be original or die,” and she practiced portraiture, fashion, advertising, and self-portraiture. Chapters showcase Yevonde’s 1930s work for witty and urbane illustrated magazines such as Sketch and the Tatler, and for British Vogue; her groundbreaking use of the lush Vivex color process, a technically demanding method that allowed for creative color manipulation; her portraits of royalty; and one of her best-known bodies of work, the goddesses series, which both reflected and subverted trends in photography and society and continues to influence. Included are a chronology of Yevonde’s life, endnotes, and a bibliography listing titles by Yevonde as well as books on color technique, women in photography, and fashion.
VERDICT With color photography the norm today, it’s fascinating to learn about the work and life of an artist who helped launch color photography.
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