When i heard the sad news that Mrs Turbeville had passed away after a long battle with cancer,i felt that she was another of fashion ”greats” to depart and thus leaving the industry being less of an artistic field and more of a commercial venture.Deborah Turbeville developed (since her early days of her professional photography work) a distinctive style based on strong female figures and mostly black and white aesthetics. She pushed boundaries in all her professional life as the ”Harper Bazaar” incident can reflect. Vogue quotes that ” In the early 1960s, Turbeville was not yet a photographer, but held an influential position as a fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar, and she pushed the sittings she styled to be more than simply straight fashion pictures. (For example, despite her background as a model for the American designer Claire McCardell, she made efforts to cast decidedly non-model types.) After a while, the editor in chief told Turbeville she was “just too much for this magazine,”and let her go.”
Its the whole aspect of Turbeville that created the ”scandal” while she was mostly working for Vogue. Her images, featuring empowered women full of mystery and enigmatic poses was by then defined as an ”anti-Newton” approach.Still,she insisted that she always wanted to leave viewers to make their own interpretations both of the image’s ”narrative” and its meaning.
In her career she was awarded with the Alfred Eisenstaedt Award for Fashion (for her editorial work at W) plus a Fulbright to give a lecture series in photography at the Baltic School of Photography. In 2009 she publishes ”Past Imperfect”, a collection of her narrative work from 1974 to 1998.
She will be greatly missed,both as a person and an artist.