Beyoncé’s history-making Vogue shot bought by US national gallery

Star wears Valentino dress and Philip Treacy headpiece in September issue photograph

Beyonce: the image is part of the first Vogue cover shoot by an African-American photographer. Photograph: Tyler Mitchell/Vogue

Beyonce: the image is part of the first Vogue cover shoot by an African-American photographer. Photograph: Tyler Mitchell/Vogue

 

A striking portrait of Beyoncé, shot by the rising photographer Tyler Mitchell for American Vogue’s all-important September issue last year, is on its way to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery, in Washington,DC.

Mitchell, who is the first African-American photographer and one of the youngest to shoot a cover for the fashion magazine, announced the news online on Tuesday. “A year ago today we broke the flood gates open,” Mitchell wrote on Instagram. “Since then it was important to spend the whole year running through them making sure every piece of the gate was knocked down. And now I’m glad to share this picture is being acquired.”

In the Vogue photograph, called See Your Halo – one of a series Mitchell took for the issue – Beyoncé leans on a white column as she looks at the camera, wearing a shimmering Valentino dress and a gold Philip Treacy London headpiece. A 23-time Grammy Award winner, the star saw her film of her critically acclaimed Coachella performance be nominated for six Emmys.

In the September issue last year, Beyoncé addressed motherhood, body image, ancestry and diversity. “Until there is a mosaic of perspectives coming from different ethnicities behind the lens, we will continue to have a narrow approach and view of what the world actually looks like,” she said. “That is why I wanted to work with this brilliant 23-year-old photographer.”

Beyonce: the cover of American Vogue’s September issue last year. Photograph: Tyler Mitchell/Vogue
Beyonce: the cover of American Vogue’s September issue last year. Photograph: Tyler Mitchell/Vogue

Mitchell, who graduated from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in 2017, told the New York Times that year: “I depict black people and people of colour in a really real and pure way... There is an honest gaze to my photos.”

The museum says it’s under discussion as to when the photograph – the gallery’s second of Beyoncé – will go on view, as it will not be on permanent display. Since 2013, it says, the museum has aimed to ensure that half of its acquisitions feature subjects or artists that make the museum’s collections more diverse. The gallery has also said on Twitter that its mission is “to tell the story of America” by portraying the people who shape its “history, development, and culture”. – New York Times