Left: Erwin Blumenfeld, Le Décolleté (The Décolleté), Victoria von Hagen, for Vogue, New York, 1952 © The Estate of Erwin Blumenfeld
Right: Arthur Elgort, Azzedine Alaïa and Naomi Campbell, New York City, 1987 © Arthur Elgort
We know Carla Sozzani as the former editor-in-chief of VOGUE Italia; but she is also a gallerist and businesswoman.
Carla Sozanni founded Galleria Carla Sozzani and 10 Corso Como, both in Milan. Now, she is putting the best of her art collection on view for “Between Art & Fashion: Photographs From the Collection of Carla Sozzani,” which recently opened at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin. Over 200 photos by 89 photographers are on view, from photographs by Cecil Beaton to Arthur Elgort’s portrait of Azzedine Alaïa and Naomi Campbell.
“For me, it’s about sharing, and it’s particularly nice to share with the younger generation. For someone young interested in photography, the possibility to see 89 kinds of eyes in one place is why I immediately said yes,” she told Women’s Wear Daily.
The curator of the exhibition, Dr. Matthias Harder, answered some questions about the show, the collector`s friendship with Helmut Newton and what fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa has to do with all of it.
5 Questions for Matthias Harder
on “Between Art & Fashion: Photographs from the Collection of Carla Sozzani”
Carla Sozzani was working in fashion as editor in chief of the italian Elle and Vogue. How did she start not only to work with photography but to collect it?
Carla opened also a gallery in Milan in 1990 and exhibited a lot of great photographers since then, including Ralph Gibson, David Bailey, Hiro, David LaChapelle, and Annie Leibovitz. Some of their works ended up in Carla’s own collection, and others were purchased over the years.
How and when did you come across her collection for the first time?
I saw all these beautiful prints hanging in her great and prestigious office behind her exhibition rooms as I brought our Alice Springs show to her gallery in 2010. And two years ago, I heard about the show in Paris and the accomapnied publication on her collection. I asked Carla’s assistant Maddalena sending me the catalogue – and after I saw it I requested to get the collection to our venue, too. I was so happy as Carla directly agreed.
Left: Carlo Mollino, Polaroid, 1962-1973 © The Estate of Carlo Mollino
Right: Ralph Gibson, Ich bin die Nacht (I am the night), 1990 © Ralph Gibson
Was there a particular photography or series of photography that convinced you to show it in Berlin?
Actually not, it was the whole collection – and the close relationship between Carla and Helmut in the past. The catalogue just represents a bit her photo collection. But after flipping through the pages you see and feel its quality. Later I checked all the files of almost 1,000 works and did a new selection of 230 prints for our space and our context.
How could you describe the relationship between Sozzani and Helmut Newton?
It was a deep friendship for years and decades. They first met in Monaco in the 1980s as Carla started her collaboration with Helmut on different fashion shootings. At the Foundation, you can see a funny and interesting documentation of the common work commissioned by Alberta Ferretti perfumes shot in Monte Carlo in 1992 – and filmed by June Newton a.k.a Alice Springs. Just a year later Newton exhibited at Galleria Carla Sozzani, followed by three more Newton shows over there.
Left: Paolo Roversi, Meg, Alaïa Dress, 1987 © Paolo Roversi
Right: Alice Springs, Helmut Newton, Rue Aubriot, Paris 1976 © Alice Springs
The exhibition was first shown in Paris and Le Locle, Switzerland; how did you adapt it for Berlin?
The fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa was the initiator of the show displayed in 2016 at his gallery in Paris, curated by Fabrice Hergott who runs a well-known museum in Paris. Le Locle in Switzerland was the second stop. But in Berlin, at the Helmut Newton Foundation we had to tell a slightly different story. Thus, I reduced the first choice a bit and added some works from the compilation related to fashion and nude photography.
But I loved the alphabetical order of the photographers on the walls, actually an idea of Fabrice Hergott, and repeated it in Berlin. The main difference are the big rooms of our Foundation featuring the collaborations of Carla Sozzani and four photographers: Sarah Moon, Helmut Newton, Paolo Roversi, and Bruce Weber, everybody represented by a few dozens of prints. It’s just fantastic to be able to display their work, too.
Finally, I added a little show on Alice Springs’ portraits in our so-called, rather intimate “June’s Room” where you find fashion designers and photographers as a portrait and also represented in Carla’s collection in the other exhibition rooms. Thus, everything becomes full circle.