Preface by Dr. M. Agha. Edited by George Davis. Text by Horst P. Horst.
New York. J. J. Augustin Publisher. 1944. Hardback, dust jacket. 133 pages. Illustrated with nearly 100 full-page black-and-white plates. 315 x 245mm (12½ x 9¾"). 0.9kg. English. Very good, with the scarce dust jacket; binding firm and clean, text free from marks or inscriptions; the dust jacket is in very good condition, especially for its age with only a little loss, there are several small tears and nicks along the edges of the jacket with small losses at the head and base of the spine and forecorners, there are some tape repairs on the reverse of the jacket.
This is Horst's first published book and is scarce with the dust jacket. Published during the latter years of the Second World War, Photographs of a Decadecontains a selection of Horst P. Horst's fashion and portrait work from the mid-1930s to the mid-1940s. It is divided into two sections. The first is a collection of his Paris images, taken during the heady days before the outbreak of war. The second is a selection of his photos taken in New York, after he had emigrated there. The two sections reveal both his development as a photographer and also the changes in taste demanded by Vogue magazine and his new audience. His early fashion and portrait work which began in Paris, draws on his training as an architect under Le Corbusier with the use of perfectly composed, classically-inspired backdrops and settings, dramatic lighting and a strong sense of the three-dimensionality of the model. The sitters and models are statuesque and stand apart from the viewer, belonging to a rarefied world of glamour, poise and high style. When Horst moved to New York and started to photograph American personalities and fashion, Conde Nast at Vogue requested that his photographs reflect American ideals, those of youth, gaiety, spontaneity and glamour. Horst's American work takes on these qualities, gaining an immediacy and sense of fun that is not so present in his early work. The Paris section includes portraits of Mademoiselle Chanel, Salvador Dali, Elsa Schiaparelli, The Hon. Mrs. Reginald Fellowes and Jose-Maria Set at the Bal Oriental, The Vicomtesse de Noailles, Lady Mendl, Noel Coward, Cole Porter and The Duchess of Windsor. The New York part includes Madame Valentina, Rita Hayworth (in bed), Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis, Tallulah Bankhead, Ingrid Bergman, Gertrude Lawrence and Alfred and Lady Diana Duff-Cooper. Also included throughout are many of his fashion photographs taken for Vogue, with clothes by Chanel, Schiaparelli, Alix, Molyneux, Mainbocher, etc. In 1943 Horst became a sergeant in the United States Army and worked as an army photographer. The final photograph in the book is 'Capt. Artha D. Williams, U.S. Army, 1944' and the reverse of the dust jacket reads 'BUY WAR BONDS' in large block letters, reminding the reader of the push-and-pull between fashion, high society and the reality of wartime.