Between 1968 and 1981, Chris von Wangenheim created a body of work that can be seen as a visual micro representations of society. His dark, enigmatic fashion photographs remain significant today as they perfectly mark the moment during the turbulent 1970’s when glamour and violence collided. It was a movement in fashion photography aimed at bringing an edge to high fashion pictures while creating an outlet for the violence and sexuality steadily emerging in turbulent times. von Wangenheim is prominently recognized for being among a group of high fashion photographers such as Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin. They were popularly known within the industry as “the terrible three”.
von Wangenheim images have a sheen to them as if they were made on enamel and are seductive. They promise a luxurious paradise but they are cold, unsentimental in their depiction of material decadence. His interpretation depicts a world created for the rich, the young, and the beautiful. We are invited in but then told to remain behind the velvet ropes. We’re sucked into a world of seduction that seems within reach, only to realize that it’s one we cannot have. Chris von Wangenheim’s style was to confront what was wrong with society through beauty. A world that is both fascinating and frightening to be a part of.