Bettina Rheims – Hot Art

Madonna

Why people always ask me if Bettina Rheims is German,…I have no clue. Probably her name. She’s French, born and raised. Second, while she’s kind of hot, (see pic), I don’t believe she was ever a model. Lastly, while many people view her as a fashion photographer, she actually didn’t delve into that realm very often, and was really a consummate ‘art photographer’. 1978 was the start of Bettina Rheims’ photography and art when she started photographing strippers and circus acrobats that led to her first exhibitions. Surprisingly, it was the female form which most inspired her. Maybe because it was Helmut Newton whose work inspired her. (and Diane Arbus) She would later say, “I love the flesh. I am a photographer of the skin”.

 

Bettina Rheims

Bettina Rheims and cameras

 

Bettina Rheims – Not German!

Soon she was taking portraits of both famous and unknown women, leading to the release of her much acclaimed book, “Female Trouble“. She also worked on her Animal series at this time, photographing dead and stuffed animals, trying to glean emotion out of those dead glass eyes. In fact, all her books are great, and some have already become collectors items.

 

Bettina Rheims

© Bettina Rheims

 

Books and more Books

Soon, “Modern Lovers” came out with her questioning gender, androgyny and transexuality. This was a subject she would revisit with the books “Les Espionnes” and “Kim“. Her major series of work,  “Chambre Close” was her first foray into color. She started a collaboration with novelist Serge Bramly, with the marriage of the visual to writing. “Chambre Close” was an artistic statement of the porn industry and its’ link with everyday people. Quite thought provoking at the time.

 

Bettina Rheims

 

The ultra quality of her prints brought her images to life,…almost imposing a 3D quality to the bareness and skin of the subject. The printing methods used were beyond the pale at the time, and still demands a technical respect to this day.

In 1995, she was chosen as the official portraitist of Jacques Chirac the President of France. She told a newspaper, the French Libération, that her job was to portray him as a great hero of the Western world. I think she accomplished that.

Controversy Strikes

In 1999 she published the book “I.N.R.I.“, with  Serge Bramly once more, on the life of Christ. This was an extremely controversial undertaking, both in France, and elsewhere. As the 21st century began, she moved to  Shanghai and created a  series on the city and its’ relationship to China. It was a journey into a world fraught with tradition and superstition and an outer glaze of contemporary western technology.

 

Bettina Rheims

© Bettina Rheims

 

In 2005, she collaborated with the designer Jean Colonna  and dressed the famous models in old haute couture dresses photographed as sculpture. She had an exhibited in 2012 in Düsseldorf, Germany on her “Gender Studies” series. and its’ importance in today’s world. Eventually, this became a book. Bettina Rheims worked on Chanel and Lancôme campaigns, which I guess is why some people try to pigeonhole her as a fashion photographer. However, that was never the impetus for her career.

 

Bettina Rheims

© Bettina Rheims

 

As a portraitist, she’s photographed Madonna, Catherine Deneuve, Charlotte Rampling, Carole Bouquet, Marianne Faithfull, Kylie Minogue, Claudia Schiffer, Asia Argento, and more. Usually as magazine assignments. Although I she’s  pictured with a Rolleiflex TLR camera, (old picture),  most of her film images were taken with a 6×7 camera. Find Mamiya 7II

 

BR Website

 

 

 

 

       
       
       
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