Through May 11, 2013
Bunny Yeager began her foray into photography casually as a way to cut corners early in her modeling career. Prints were expensive and Yeager figured that if she could learn to print her own photos that she could cut down on her costs. In the beginning the craft was less important than the process of making. Early on Yeager simply used the prints to facilitate and push her modeling career, but her photographic work began to open opportunities for her. Before long Yeager's own images of model friends were being snapped up and published by men's magazines.
A pin-up legend was born of collaborative effort between Yeager and Bettie Page when, in 1955, Playboy bought a topless shot of Page winking in a Santa hat for their holiday issue. Yeager's work has since become iconic; what had been seen at the time as part of a popular "cheesecake" class of photography has gained attention for its revolutionary approach. Unlike her male counterparts Yeager took many of her images outside rather than in the studio; this added a vibrancy and life to the work that was unmatched. There was a more natural quality to the prints, a looseness, an immediacy and, if you were in the world of men's magazines, one would go far enough to say more spontaneous and seductive than the stiff studio poses being made by others. Yeager pushed the envelope and further refined her style with costume choices; she designed bathing suits and lingerie for her models. This worked further to refine and identify her work and style.
This compilation of work now on view at PDNB Gallery takes us back in time but remains immediate. Contact sheets speak to process and the relationship she built with her models. We see many prints of her favorite muse Betty Page, including the infamous image of Page in her Santa hat that started it all. Even years after these works were taken Yeager's women are striking temptresses. There is something undeniably classic to the work, something that though seductive is honest, clean, and playful. The women are dynamic, confidant, and empowered; we don't leer, we desire.
For more information on the exhibition, please visit PDNB Gallery