The Beauty Culture show at Los Angeles’ Annenberg Space for photography will pose some interesting questions through creative and provocative photography. It’s about beauty as an industry, as a sector, and artsier takes on the idea of beauty. As Simone S. Oliver writes in The New York Times Lens section, “The exhibition is certainly timely, when a mother injects Botox into her child to improve her chances as a beauty pageant contestant. The model Crystal Renn has found herself under attack for losing weight. Franca Sozzani, the editor of Italian Vogue, has been criticized for creating separate “curvy” and “black” pages. And Elle India was accused of lightening the skin color of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan on its December 2010 cover.”
The exhibition includes work from Andreas Serrano to Guy Bourdin and Terry Richardson and many, many more, including explicit medical procedures. Ah, it’s Orlan then [warning, some graphic images].
This over view show begs the question, where next for the Beauty sector? From Dove campaigns, to plus-size models on the cover of fashion magazines, to beauty photos on personal websites there is a different kind of model out there. Beauty conventions are being challenged. But whether this is a brief blooming of diverse beauty fostered by new technology, or whether it will have a longer term impact on beauty photography is a question cosmetics brands and magazine editors are trying to figure out.