Family portraits have been in vogue since Paleolithic-Neolithic times. The first humans to be represented in art as the central subject of a work were pregnant women or fertility goddesses (e.g. the Venus of Willendorf, made of limestone, circa 28,000-25,000 BCE). Tribes worshiped images of fertile women. Romans exalted the Madonna and Child. Renoir painted his wealthy friends and their families at their homes, to order. Regardless of the long history and popularity of family portraiture, many Americans this week were surprised (some angry) to see celebrities Kim Kardashian and Kanye West posing with their baby for Vogue – the glossy fashion and lifestyle magazine. Kardashian is known for many things, including a sex tape and a reality TV show, but she’s also a catwalk regular. She’s the co-owner fashion line DASH (available in her family’s boutique stores and on QVC) and Kardashian Kollection available at Sears. (No one’s saying she’s Coco Chanel.) And whether or not his fashion designs are truly his ideas, Kardashian’s fiancé Kayne West has a design partnership with Adidas. They’re both profitable, too–something loftier designers like the late L’Wren Scott only dreamed about.
Vogue readers including TV star Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Killer, The Crazy Ones) have threatened to cancel their subscriptions. Nearly 10,000 of SMG’s followers retweeted her message: “Well…I guess I’m canceling my Vogue subscription. Who is with me???” Gellar can’t possibly be irked by the actual photographs of the young couple with their new baby–she and her own famous husband Freddie Prinze Jr. posed for People when they had their firstborn. So what is it? Is Gellar worried about the career prospects for the 72 lb. model who was originally scheduled for the cover? Or is it that Vogue is slumming? Obviously grabbing the cover of such a well-regarded, sophisticated magazine will further elevate the public profiles of Kim Kardashian and Kayne West. Isn’t it precisely editrix Anna Wintour’s job to keep those people out? The Vogue club used to be pretty selective, remember those with selective memory. Once you let in the Kardashians, what next? The whole neighborhood could hit the skids. Then again, those Renoirs are now priceless.