Nature and landscape, fashion and nude: the French photographer Jeanloup Sieff moves masterfully throughout genres establishing himself as one of the great talents in the history of photography. The exhibition “Shadow Lines” offers a comprehensive and very personal view of Jeanloup Sieff´s work. Featuring 48 photographs, this exhibition shows him as an artist who has not only chosen to utilize the wide-angle lens to achieve a strikingly cinematic approach, but also as one who challenges the limits of black and white photography through an unusual play of light and shadow.
Jeanloup Sieff once described his approach which would become a personal hallmark as:
the pleasure in crazy light, the pleasure in making forms visible, to compose spaces and encounters”
The exhibition “Shadow Lines” unites his particular joy of photography, his unusual and often humorous pictorial language, and shows a compilation of dreamlike landscapes and poetic nudes from the late 1960s to the 1990s.
Even the barren landscapes of California’s Death Valley are captured in soft contours in Sieff’s black and white shots. Whether sand dunes or jagged rocks, whether a naked back or a female nude, he creates undulating curves through the composition of his subjects as flowing structures, only to then open new perspectives with hard contrasts and a fine play of light and shadow. In his nudes, the photographer stages pure femininity and youth with a tender eye for detail and intimate arrangements. The exhibition entices the viewer into a voyage of discovery from picturesque sand dunes over gracefully draping cliffs, along curvaceous buttocks and breasts to elegant backs. The viewer is guided through this journey of discovery through the clear shapes, lines and shadow play which pass through his photographs.
The son of Polish immigrants, Jeanloup Sieff discovered his passion for photography in Paris in the 1940s, when he was gifted a camera for his 14th birthday. His breakthrough came only years later when he was given a commission from French magazine Elle. From then on, his list of clients rapidly increased, reading like a catalogue of who’s who in the world of high gloss magazines such as Vogue, Esquire, Paris Match, and Harper’s Bazaar. It is not surprising therefore that Sieff is remembered particularly as a fashion photographer – a categorization against which he fought vehemently throughout his life. Besides well-known fashion photographs, a wide-range and comprehensive collection of reportage, portraits, nudes and landscape photographs was created. Without fail, his singular view through the lens continuously sought uniquely specific forms through a ubiquitous interplay of organic elements.
About the artist, Jeanloup Sieff
Born in 1933, Jeanloup Sieff developed an early interest for Film. He left behind his original plan to become a director and instead turned towards photography. From the mid-50s he worked as a freelance Photojournalist and Fashion Photographer. After working at the prestigious Magnum Photo Agency in New York and having received commissions from all the great fashion magazines of the time, his works now can be found in numerous museum collections, for example the Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée de l´Art Moderne, Paris, and Museum Ludwig, Köln. He has won such prizes as the Prix Niepce (1959), Chevalier des Arts et Lettres in Paris (1981) and the Grand Prix National de la Fotografie (1992). The artist died in Paris on September 20th, 2000.