Deborah Turbeville, you might say, is the anti-Helmut Newton. Her most abiding images, the ‘Bath House’ series, produced for Vogue in 1975 (and reprised in the similar ‘Steam Room’ photographs of 1984), present models whose misty lassitude is the antithesis of Newton’s athletic automata. Turbeville’s early career as a fashion photographer depended precisely on a degree of suggestive blur (first spotted by Richard Avedon) that rendered her subjects – not to say the clothes that were the ostensible pretext for the pictures – so many excuses for conjuring an alluring haze. ‘I say yes to style,’ she said, ‘yes to mood, yes to ambiguity.’ But Turbeville also says yes to Art, and ‘The Narrative Works: Photographs 1975–1997’, the first UK exhibition of her photographs, continued her use of a wide variety of print sizes, rough or unfinished surfaces and scraps of attendant text. ‘I am’, Turbeville has also announced, ‘very avant-garde and extreme.’
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