Mehmed Fehmy Agha with Leica, 1950

Mehmed Fehmy Agha with Leica, 1950

This photographic portrait depicts Agha with Leica IIIf with Elmar 1:3,5/5cm lens and an SBOOI 5cm viewfinder. Agha’s wristwatch also stands out. The reflection of the negative offers the viewer the possibility to determine the exact time of day this photograph was taken.

Mehmed Fehmy Agha was born to Turkish parents in the Ukraine. After graduating from the Kiev Art Academy, he studied economics in St. Petersburg. His extraordinary feeling for art and design manifested itself in Paris and Berlin during the 1920s. He caused a major stir as art director of the short-lived German edition of Vogue when he adapted the design principles of the Bauhaus for this publication.

In 1929, Agha was invited to New York by Condé Nast to join the American Vogue as creative director. Once arrived, he ensured a ground-breaking redesign of the fashion magazine. Agha discontinued many time-honoured standards in magazine design, eschewing decorative elements, replacing illustrations with photographs and favouring sans-serif fonts. As an art director, however, he changed not only the graphic appearance and layout of the magazine; instead, he also influenced its photographic language by offering a platform to rising talents like Horst P. Horst, Cecil Beaton and Edward Steichen.

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