March 17 – April 29, 2017
Opening March 16, 5-8 pm.
Grundemark Nilsson Gallery, Sibyllegatan 26, Stockholm
Ellen von Unwerth
The power of the photographer behind the camera and the choice of models, direct our time and the image of our history. Grundemark Nilsson Gallery has curated a selection of iconic photographs along with new ones in the group exhibition Strike a Pose, where the focus is on the act of posing as well as on the power of the photographer.
The icon Kate Moss, on of the most photographed models in the world, is portrayed in Marrakech, 1993 by Albert Watson (b. 1942 Great Britain). The photograph was taken for the German Vogue and is today one of his most popular photographs. By the end of a day while shooting in Marrakech, Watson suggested they would take some nude photographs on the rooftop of a house and Moss said yes. Both Watson and Moss agree that the photographs they created there on the roof are some of the best images of her ever taken. The sunlight and the natural beauty that Watson captured brings another great photographer to the mind, Peter Lindbergh (b. 1944 Germany), whose work also is shown in the exhibition Strike a Pose. Another supermodel, almost naked, is posing sexy but with an attitude for Lindbergh. The woman in the photograph is the model and actress Milla Jovovich, who Lindbergh recurrently photographed during the years. He has been a great admirer of the well-known supermodels of the 90s, and he continuously does fashion shoots with them for the big magazines. In a time of exaggerated retouch in magazines, he uses a kind of romantic realism in his photographs and tries to redefine the norm of beauty. In his editorials he often photographs in fair daylight and almost creates short film sequences through the series of photo stills that he shoots.
The Swedish star, fashion photographer Carl Bengtsson (b. 1952 Sweden), also uses natural light and often natural make-up on his models. He has been photographing with new techniques as well as analogue photography during his career and bestows an astonishing nature in his works. A distinct characteristic in the book Portraits, 2011, by Carl Bengtsson is how he lets the personality of the models shine through in his photography, very much like Lindbergh and Watson.
The choice of models is of great importance and in Julia Hetta´s (b. 1972 Sweden) photographs it is stunning how timeless the beauty of the models are. Hetta discourage artificial light and works almost solely with natural daylight and long exposures, not unlike photographers in previous generations. The way Hetta manages the light in her works, gives a reminiscence of old baroque paintings where the portrayed sort of appears through a quiet, pitch-black darkness. The ideal of the body has changed during time and Hetta’s engagement in the business is clearly stated in the way she chooses her models, preferably showing curves and street casted models then supermodels.
Tranquillity is not the first characteristics of Ellen von Unwerth’s (b. 1954 German) works. On the contrary, play and action, often with sexual connotations and a sense of humour is in the spotlight. Unwerth herself started (her career) as a model and she is very much a participant in the images she makes. There is no distance and no limits. As in one of Carl Bengtsson’s photographs in this exhibition, Unwerth has managed to capture an aura of the 20s, showing a woman in a black bob and smokey eyes. Unwerth is never retained when it comes to working with contrasts, neither in her colour images nor her black and whites. Your gaze is drawn to images, where black is as black as midnight and red the bloodiest red. There is a strong energetic feeling that is conveyed to the viewer. To have a look in one of her books gives you a visual high.
Christer Strömholm (1918-2002, Sweden) never photographed fashion but his images of transvestites taken in Paris at Plache Blanche in the 1960s, has an air of beauty and darkness to them, in a combination that inspires all kinds of creativity. Strömholm’s photographs of these strong personalities that he managed to capture, strike you with awe. He often had a sharp subject in his images but it wouldn’t have been good enough if he couldn’t say it had something significant to it, the “Image with a capital I”, (the Photograph with a capital P), a thesis (an idea) that he returned to throughout his career and which has influenced generations of photographers after him. In the exhibition we can see a clear resemblance between two photographs by Strömholm and Lindbergh, taken with the interval of 35 years.
Elisabeth Toll (b. 1970 Sweden) started her career working with documentary but ended up in fashion, portrait and landscape photography. In the exhibition Strike a Pose, these three interests intertwine. Playful photographs of a model and elephants in an open field along with the horizon in the distance… One more time and the elephant is going to be angry is a must see.
David Sims’ (b. 1966 Great Britain) career literally exploded in the beginning of the 90s thanks to magazines like The Face and i-D, and he is a master in the studio when it comes to strike and capture a pose.
Helmut Newton (1920-2004, Germany/USA) created his own world of beauty, luxury, eroticism and decay. His way of working is unique and his photographs recognized as very Newton, rarely mistaken for anyone else’s. The image in the exhibition Strike a Pose is a classic piece and has everything you expect from a Newton photograph. The unconventional pose and sadomasochistic flirt has made the image well-known and very admired.
Along with these photographs, works by the Swedish photographers Tekla Severin and Sandra Freij are also exhibited. Tekla Severin (b.1981 Sweden) is an upcoming star who with her passion for the colour palette of the 70’s, together with her choice of location, transforms her fashion photos into a interior selection of sweets. Her set design is like a dollhouse and even a trained eye needs to look closely to recognise that it actually is a photograph.
Sandra Freij (b. 1975 Sweden) is represented by the Swedish agent LundLund and we have chosen to exhibit a selection of photographs from a campaign shot indoors but still remind us of a heaving landscape.
All of these photographers have a dignity and an expression that shines through in the images – in how they direct, how they use the light and who they choose to work with. They show their own expressions in a world of excessive competition, and they see a person in the model and a model in the person.