1955, Paris France.
The model was Dovima, an American girl named Dorothy Virginia Margaret Juba who took the first two letters from her three names and transformed herself into an unforgetable being. She was wearing Christian Dior designed by Yves Saint Laurent.
Richard Avedon was 32, he was working for Bazar, his aesthetics was still more acadamic than avant garde, and for the first time he moved his model outdoor like the impressionist painters did in 19th century, thus changed the history of photography.
2011, Beijing, China. Her name is Fan binging, the most famous actress in China, you can not see she is not beautiful, she is. But the picture? No. The triangular composition is not bad, but it is the only good thing about the picture.
The photographer Chen Man gave Miss Fan a G.I. Jane bold hair style, and make her dress like striptease, both evoking Demi Moore the warrior.
There are two versions as to what Richard Avedon wanted to express in his dovima and elephants photo: beauty and beast, or sadness of aging-through Dovima’s smooth hand over the elegant’s wrinkled bodies. But whatever it is, he has done a perfect job, from the composition, texture contrast, model’s gesture and facial expression, the length and silhouette of the dress, the sash, it is something you can look at again and again, and still feel touched by its beauty and simplicity.
Chen Man’s photo, however, did not transmit any aesthetic pleasure. It was for the September cover of a man magazine called Mr. Fashion.
¨Did you get inspiration from Dovima and elephants? She was asked. No. She did not like to repeat or copy others.
But of course she did. The problem is not that she copied, in the world of art, almost every artist has to or wants to copy before the becomes himself, even the best artist copies. Rafael copied perugino before he became rafael, Michelangelo copied Masaccio before he became Michelangelo.
It is the way how she did it.
Both French painter Edward Manet and Amercian painter John Singer Sargent copied zealously Diego Velazquez,but they became better Manet and Sargent, while as Pablo Picasso, when he copied his compatriot Velazquez, he destroyed.
That was how Chen Man copied Richar Avedon, that is why her photo is so vulgar.
2016, Alberto Alicata an Italian from Palermo, Italy won the Professional Staged Category at the Sony World Photography Awards with his series ‘Iconic B’. B stands for Barbie, and dovima barbie is one of them.
Is it Sony, or is it the world that is more and more loosing its judgment over beauty and ugliness¿
It is said elephants have the best memory in the animal world, and I sometimes wonder, what will the elephants photographed with Miss Fan Bingbing remember: the fact that they have been amusingly made up, or their trunk have been used as a chair for someone barely covered.
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