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The Arts Intel Report

A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler
A Cultural Compass
For the World Traveler

Deborah Turbeville: Photocollage

Deborah Turbeville, Giselle, Cafe Tacuba, 1992.

Until June 16
Keizersgracht 401, 1016 EK Amsterdam, Netherlands

Deborah Turbeville never intended to be a fashion photographer. She was born in Massachusetts, in 1932, and her career came about by a strange, slow osmosis. First, she was a model for the American designer Claire McCardell; next, an editor at Harper’s Bazaar; then, a student of Richard Avedon’s; and finally, a freelance photographer in her own right. Turbeville dreamed of working like Eugène Atget, who spent his time photographing street corners and stairs, leaving behind an archive of exquisitely patinated snaps of Paris. Instead, fashion became her métier. She accepted the work she was assigned, but suffused her images with a decidedly unfashionable vision—spectral, melancholic, and sometimes eerie. Last November, one decade after Turbeville’s death, at 81, in 2013, a new exhibition opened at Lausanne’s Photo Elysée. Serving as her first retrospective, “Deborah Turbeville: Photocollage” focuses on a previously unseen body of work—collages. Torn and taped, overlapping and otherworldly, these images show Turbeville rejecting photography’s ideal of silver-flecked purity. Leaving the collages deliberately distressed, she’s embracing what she referred to as the “edge.” The show now comes to Amsterdam. —Christina Cacouris

Photo: © Deborah Turbeville/MUUS Collection