GLOSS: Modeling Beauty

August 26, 2017 - January 7, 2018

Focusing on the prominent role of women as the subject of photography, GLOSS: Modeling Beauty explores the shifting ideals of female beauty that pervade European and American visual culture from the 1920s to today. The exhibition features images of sleek and poised female models and celebrities destined for the glossy pages of fashion magazines and catalogs by leading photographers such as Edward Steichen, Philippe Halsman, Helmut Newton, Andy Warhol, and Guy Bourdin. Outside of commercial advertising practice, documentary photographers Elliott Erwitt, Joel Meyerowitz, and Ralph Gibson portray candid images of fashionable women on city streets and mannequins in shop windows, resulting in intriguing juxtapositions of haute couture and everyday life. And artists James Van Der Zee, Eduardo Paolozzi, and Nikki S. Lee employ the visual strategies of traditional fashion photography, while offering alternative narratives to mainstream notions of female beauty.

Lead support for Gloss: Modeling Beauty is provided by Bank of America and Merrill Lynch. Additional generous support is provided by the University of Michigan Institute for Research on Women and Gender, 


Philippe Halsman, Halle, 1942, gelatin silver print. University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of Hans Neukomm, 1996/2.7, Photo © Philippe Halsman Archive


Exhibition Timeline

SatAug 26
Exhibition Opens
SunJan 7
Exhibition Closes