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Monumental Ideas about Dressing

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    1962 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cowan, John, born 1929 - died 1975 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin-silver print

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Gunilla Mitchell

  • Museum number:

    E.3004-2004

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

John Cowan was a leading fashion photographer during the 1960s. His photographs epitomised the playful, graphically dynamic style of commercial photography practised in London during the period. In 1962 he met the model Jill Kennington, sparking an exciting period of high-octane image-making for numerous magazines and newspapers.

This image comes from a series taken for Queen magazine in which Kennington poses against a backdrop of historical sculpture, in this case the Temple Bar Memorial with its bronze griffin bearing the motto of the City of London, ‘Domine dirige nos’ (Lord guide us). Her defiant stance seems to challenge the traditional, establishment attitudes that can be seen in much public sculpture, reflecting other social upheavals during the decade.

Physical description

Black and white photograph of a female model, wearing a black leather trench coat, boots and cap, standing on the plinth of a bronze statue of a dragon holding a shield with the motto 'domine dirige nos'.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)

Date

1962 (photographed)

Artist/maker

Cowan, John, born 1929 - died 1975 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin-silver print

Marks and inscriptions

'Domine dirige nos'
'Lord, guide us'
Motto on shield.

Dimensions

Height: 154 cm framed image, Width: 105.5 cm framed image, Depth: 4 cm frame

Object history note

John Cowan was a leading fashion photographer in the 1960s. His photographs epitomised the playful, graphically dynamic style of commercial photography practised in London during the period. His partnership with Jill Kennington sparked an exciting period of high-octane image making for numerous magazines. Cowan's work, with that of Ron Traeger and Michael Cooper was exhibited at the V&A in the 1999 exhibition 'Triple Exposure: three photographers of the '60s'. This exhibition was more recently toured by Fondacion La Caixa around regional venues in Spain. Key images from Cowan's oeuvre shown in the exhibition were selected by Charlotte Cotton for the national collection and given to the V&A by Cowan's estate holders. These will boost our holdings of fashion photography and act as a record of his successful exhibition and tour.

'Monumental Ideas about Dressing', five fashion studies from a series for Queen, published 4th December 1962.

Descriptive line

'Monumental Ideas about Dressing', black and white photograph, John Cowan, 1962

Subjects depicted

Boots; Shields; Caps; Plinths; Sculpture; Models (people); Dragons; Trench coats

Categories

Photographs; Fashion

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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