Since her first photographs in the late ’70s, Bettina Rheims has defied the predictable. From her series on Pigalle strippers (1980) to her cycle on the life of Jesus in I.N.R.I. (1998), from Chanel commercials to Gender Studies (2011), her work has shaken up traditional iconography and pushed restlessly at the breaking point between two great human preoccupations: beauty and imperfection.
This Rheims retrospective showcases more than 500 photographs from 35 years of daring, often defiant photography. Personally selected and assembled by Rheims, the collection juxtaposes renowned series such as Chambre Close, Héroïnes, and Rose, c’est Paris with many previously unpublished archival images and entries from Rheims’s own “diaries,” detailing behind-the-scenes work and personal memories.
Spanning commercial work and artistic series, the retrospective impresses with each turn of the page, as much for the strength of each image as for the thrilling variety of Rheims’s subjects and aesthetics. With equal attention to anonymous subjects cast in the street as to global celebrities including Kate Moss, Madonna, Monica Bellucci, Claudia Schiffer, and Naomi Campbell, the book showcases Rheims’s particular interest in female fragility and strength, and of the magic encounter between model and artist which disrupts codes of so-called eroticism to build up a new image system for womanhood.
First published as a limited edition—now available in a popular TASCHEN edition!
Bettina Rheims is a French fine art and fashion photographer. She first won acclaim with a dramatic series of portraits of striptease artists and acrobats, gaining a solo exhibition at the Centre Pompidou aged just 29. Subsequent series include Chambre Close (1990–1992); I.N.R.I. (1998), picturing scenes from the life of Christ; The Book of Olga (2008 for TASCHEN); and Gender Studies (2014). She has worked on advertising campaigns for major brands including Chanel and Lancôme, and taken portraits of such famous individuals as Charlotte Rampling, Marianne Faithfull, Claudia Schiffer, Catherine Deneuve, and Jacques Chirac. Rheims won the Grand Prix de la Photographie de la Ville de Paris in 1994 and the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 2002.
Patrick Remy has authored several publications and launched two book series, namely Fashion Images de Mode and Strip/Paradise/Desire/Sensation (Steidl). He has also published a number of photographers’ monographs and organized several fashion photography exhibitions, in particular in Miami, Tokyo, and Melbourne. He lives and works in Paris.