Art of the Day

31 Mar

Vogue Paris Studio. Made by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. Digital video, black and white, 2012. 3:02 minutes long. Currently on view in the exhibition “White Petals Surround Your Yellow Heart” at the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia.

Notes on the artists from

For over two decades, the meticulous and audacious imagery created by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin has challenged and inspired the  field of fashion photography.  Working together since 1986, the Dutch partnership rose to fame in the early 1990s.  Experimenting with the latest digital imaging technologies, their early work captured the imagination of art critics,  who were mesmerized by the sophisticated interplay of elegance and horror in their images.  As their notoriety burgeoned in the art world, the fashion community became equally captivated by early editorial work for British style magazine The Face, which added high-octane glamour to their dark and unsettling aesthetic.  Collaborating with Belgian designer Véronique Leroy, they formulated a vocabulary of attenuated predatory figures in hyperreal environments, flying in the face of the prevailing ‘grunge’ movement and signaling the end of that genre of fashion photography.  Exerting considerable influence in fashion and in art, van Lamsweerde and Matadin are exceptional in balancing successful careers in both.

The pair met whilst studying at the Art Academy in Amsterdam and following careers in and around fashion, began working formally together as artists in the early 1990s.  Their provocative breakthrough 1993 series “Thank You Thighmaster” and “Final Fantasy” challenged preconceptions about the female form through innovative use of computer manipulations, whilst “The Forest (1995)” seamlessly conflated the features of men and women’s bodies to pose questions about gender and beauty.  Starting to translate these challenging techniques into fashion imagery in 1994, van Lamsweerde and Matadin attracted enormous attention for their sensational editorial for The Face and they instantly began photographing for the most prestigious and progressive magazines.

They are regular contributors to Vogue Paris, Purple Magazine, W Magazine and V Magazine among many others and have created iconic advertising campaigns for leading fashion and fragrance brands including: Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Gucci, Chloë, Givenchy, Balenciaga, Chanel, Robeto Cavalli and Viktor & Rolf Parfum.  In collaboration with the choreographer Stephen Galloway, van Lamsweerde and Matadin have devised a unique and highly recognizable language of poses that imbues their work with individuality and produces vivacious, playful portraiture.  Enjoying working with young and more established models equally, the pair have longstanding, collaborative relationships with the faces of our age, including Kate Moss, Shalom Harlow, Christy Turlington, Chloë Sevigny, Lou Doillon and Sophia Loren.  van Lamsweerde and Matadin are highly sought after as society photographers and have created definitive, iconic portraits of many of the key figures of film and celebrity, from Bill Murray, Clint Eastwood, Daniel Day Lewis and Yves Saint Laurent to Madonna, Natalie Portman, Shirley MacLaine and Julianne Moore.

van Lamsweerde and Matadin’s career in art is equally prolific; their work is exhibited internationally and held in public and private collections across the world.  Motifs from imagery produced for commercial commissions are often carried through into their artwork and the pair regard this dialogue between commerce and art a central theme of their practice.  Their work can have diverse and unexpected outcomes, such as their ongoing collaboration with van Lamsweerde’s uncle, the esteemed sculptor Eugene van Lamsweerde, or their richly experimental work with the art directors M/M (Paris).

My comments:

I saw this yesterday in the exhibition mentioned above, and something about it was extremely mesmerizing and compelling to me. It was so captivating that I watched the movie several times while I was in the exhibit gallery. I remember that the first time I watched it, the sudden distortion that occurred while the woman in the video was touching her mouth was incredibly surprising, although a smaller distortion occurs earlier in the video (about 20 seconds in, when her head suddenly stretches upward) that hints at the more dramatic distortions to come. I have no idea what I find so attention-grabbing about this video, but something about it I find absolutely beautiful. I find the expressions and motions of the women in it so honest and raw, as well as very unique. I particularly like how she makes her hands into claws at the beginning. I also love all the clothes she wears, and I wonder how much that contributes to my liking of the video as a whole. Even if this was suppose to merely be an ad for the Paris edition of Vogue (which I don’t know if it was, I’m just assuming that due to the title and the fact that the people who made it are fashion photographers who freelance for Vogue), it is much more than that, and it has an expressive power that equals that of artwork that isn’t meant to sell something.

One Response to “Art of the Day”

  1. tara March 31, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    I thnk the music is compelling as well , which contributes to the visual delight. the woman is beautiful. if she was ugly and the music bad, who would care.

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