A century of fashion and glamour come together in the works of Paul César Helleu and Cathleen Naundorf

Professionally I enjoy supporting friends, especially those who are talented, honest and who have been particularly kind like Blanca Bernheimer, a friend and colleague from a previous chapter in life.  So last Wednesday I stopped by Trinity House Paintings, a London-New York based Impressionist and Modern Paintings gallery for the opening of the show Beauty Endures; Studies of Glamour and Intrigue that they are co-hosting with Blanca’s much-celebrated Munich-based gallery Bernheimer Fine Art Photography.

The idea of the show was to bring the work of French painter Paul César Helleu (1859-1927) and contemporary German fashion photographer Cathleen Naundorf (b. 1968) together for a side-by-side celebration of beauty, glamour and haute couture.
Paul César Helleu was renown for his commissioned portraits of high society including the Duchess of Marlborough and Helena Rubenstein and whose fashionable drawings and ideas served as inspiration to a number of the early 20th-century couturiers like Doucet, Charles Frederick Worth and Coco Chanel.  (On a slightly unrelated note, it was Helleu who designed the marvelous star and zodiac ceiling of NYC’s Grand Central Station).
Renowned Munich-based contemporary fashion photographed Cathleen Naundorf frames some of the most amazing creations by today’s top couturiers like Chanel, Dior, Gaultier, Lacroix and Valentino. Influenced by colleagues from a previous generation like photographer Horst P. Horst and film directors Visconti and Fellini, her b&w’s are amazing and her experimental color photos transform a realistic but staged situation into something more like a fresco in which the colors look to be flaking off a decaying palazzo wall.
The idea of pairing the two is formidable, as you can attest by my coupling of selected images.  Although one could sensibly purchase both a drawing and a photo and hang them together, each work of art holds it own and would be a wonderful addition to any art collection.
From top to bottom:
Cathleen Naundorf | Nibelungen IV | Chanel – HC winter | 1983 – no. 114 | Door Studios | Paris – 13.04.2010
Paul César Helleu | Le parfum| charcoal and pastel on paper | 20 x 17 in. | 50.75 x 43.25 cm. | signed lower left
Cathleen Naundorf | The Last Sitting III | Elie Saab – HC winter 2011 | Grand Palais | Paris – 14.09.2011
Paul César Helleu | Portrait of Madame Helleu | sanguine, black and white chalk on paper | 18 x 25 in. | 46 x 63.5 cm. | signed lower right
Cathleen Naundorf | Homage to Horst P. Horst | Chanel – HC winter | 2006 – no. 58 | Appartement Coco Chanel, rue Cambon | Paris – 27.05.2008
Paul César Helleu | Élégante á la chaise lyre | crayon on paper | 28.75 x 20.5 in. | 73 x 52 cm | signed lower right
image credits: (Naundorf) Bernheimer Fine Art Photography, Munich;  (Helleu) Trinity House Paintings, London and New York.
The exhibition at Trinity House is at 24 East 64th Street and runs through 29 September 2012
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