Curiously neglected in the records of the swinging sixties, fashion photographer James Moore was one of the 20th century’s most influential talents. Now, a dedicated retrospective celebrates the life and work of one of fashion’s unsung heroes
Compared to many prolific photographers of the 20th century, such as the likes of Helmut Newton, Richard Avedon and Annie Leibovitz, you might not know much – if anything – about the inimitable James Moore. Indeed, the American fashion photographer has long been regarded as a ‘photographer’s photographer’, inspiring generations of budding talent but failing to be widely recognised in the annals of ’60s popular culture. That is, until this year, with the release of Damiani publisher’s James Moore: Photographs 1962-2006 – a rich, comprehensive tome that finally grants the photographer’s work the exposure and attention it deserves.
Possessing a peerless eye for detail and an exceptional flair for exploring space and beauty, Moore helped to shape the continually evolving aesthetic of ’60s fashion while working at Harper’s Bazaar under legendary editor Carmel Snow.
Formerly a student of illustrious art director, Alexey Brodovitch, Moore got his big break when Bazaar’s art director at the time, Marvin Israel, took a chance on the young up-start, sparking off a decades-long relationship with the title and providing a starting point for the creation of the era’s most visually arresting and innovative fashion editorials.
Moore’s intricately detailed approach to photography lent a heightened sense of glamour to his work, with languid gamines and luxe bohemians often captured in remarkable, surreal compositions.
From his cinematic black-and-white shots to portraits of models striking structured, angular poses, Moore’s approach to fashion photography was pioneering and original.
Alongside his work for Bazaar, the monograph also showcases Moore’s photographs for the likes of W, Vogue, Clairol and CoverGirl – spanning 50 years of his career within the fashion industry right up to the last pieces he did for Bazaar before his death in 2006. Also featured are texts from the leading editors, models, photographers and designers of the day. The power of Moore’s quiet, understated influence is surmised neatly by curator Martin Harrison in the book’s introduction: “Moore maintained a seemingly endless flow of photographs that ranged from fragile, limpid still-lifes to complex, filmic mini dramas. Art directed by Bea Feitler and Ruth Ansel, they were among the most incisive and impressive images of the decade.”