A retrospective of Bettina Rheims (Paris, 1952), France’s most celebrated contemporary photographer. A selection of over 130 works has been compiled from various series, from her debut Female Trouble (1981-1991) to her most recent Shanghai (2003). Even though such celebrities as Claudia Schiffer, Kylie Minogue, Angelina Jolie and Madonna have posed before her camera, the photos have nothing to do with fame or celebrity. It is all about glamour.
Bettina Rheims started her career in the late 1970s by making a series of photographs of striptease dancers she met by chance in the street. The series was published in the Egoïste magazine in 1980 and made Rheims a celebrity. From the beginning of the 1980s, Rheims has moved with ease in the worlds of photographic art, fashion and advertisement; she also took the official portrait of the French president Jacques Chirac in 1995. Her most controversial and acclaimed works include I.N.R.I. (1997–98), made in collaboration with Serge Bramly. It portrays Christ in modern settings and its contemporary interpretations caused a scandal particularly in the Catholic Church.
But Rheims is best known as a dedicated portraitist of women, gifted at making her subjects blossom. No matter whether she is shooting Madonna or a saleswoman she met in the street, the photographs always convey an intensive and close relationship between the model and the photographer.
Published by Schirmer/Mosel Verlag (Munich), a catalogue bearing the same name as the retrospective (available both in English and German) accompanies the exhibition.
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