Curtis Moffat: Related Photographers
Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) launched his career as a 'society' photographer in 1926 with an exhibition in London that won him an immediate contract with Vogue, where he worked for the next thirty years. Beaton's fascination with glamour and high society prevailed throughout his life and in 1937 he became court photographer to the British Royal Family. He also became a successful stage and costume designer, most notably for 'My Fair Lady' and 'Gigi'. A friend and admirer of Curtis Moffat, Beaton later credited Moffat with influencing his own style of both making and framing portraits:
'Curtis Moffat, whose abstract photographs and huge marble-ized heads were extremely fashionable at this time, was friendly and encouraging, and I was extremely impressed by the flat lighting, or lack of lighting, and the composition, or lack of composition, which he employed. In imitation of his work I hurried home to strip my sisters bare to the shoulders and bring my camera so close to their faces as to almost touch their noses. I, too, bought a great variety of different-textured cardboards and coloured fancy papers on which to mount my Herculean enlargements, but my imitations never possessed the inimitable Curtis Moffat touch.'
Man Ray (1890-1976) was a master of experimental photographic techniques. Born in New York, he settled in Paris in the early 1920s. He was a key figure in the Surrealist movement of the 1920s and 1930s and also worked as a fashion photographer for Vogue. He introduced Moffat to the photogram process during their brief collaboration in Paris in the early 1920s and his portraits and nudes were likely to have inspired Moffat's.
Like Moffat, Madame Yevonde (1893-1975) made glamorous society portraits in her London studio, many of which involved elaborate costumes, stagecraft and lighting. She was also an early experimenter with colour photography, and throughout the 1930s made portraits and still lifes with the short-lived Vivex process, which yielded rich, saturated colours.
Barbara Ker-Seymer (1905-1993) also made fashionable studio portraits in London in the 1920s and 1930s. She also collaborated with Olivia Wyndham, with whom Moffat had initially opened his portrait studio. Research remains to be done the careers of both Ker-Seymer and Wyndham.