Valérie Belin (b. 1964, Boulogne-Billancourt, France) uses photography to explore the human body as a powerful vessel for abstraction and projected meaning. She has photographed live models and mannequins, masks and cardsharks, dancers and bodybuilders all while referring to the central theme of reality vs. artificiality. Belin questions the construction and fetishization of mainstream beauty ideals and enduring gender constructs.
In each of the artist’s series, individual images mirror each other while offering subtle differences. In Black Eyed Susan (2010-13), models embody the ideal of Western feminine beauty, yet they defy complete uniformity through superficial differences in each image: slight differences in the angles of their gaze, hair and eye color, lipstick shade, and the floral motifs superimposed atop the model’s bodies create an illusion of individuality. Through this juxtaposition, Belin’s photographs address the phenomenon of simulacra and simulation, a process through which the boundaries between reality and illusion are clouded and representations of reality lose resemblance to real events. In today’s world of technology and media consumption, audiences increasingly project and accept edited, staged realities as real life. Belin’s work highlights this collective fantasy by theatrically performing the very processes that drive mainstream media.
Her 2016 series All Star continues these investigations into superficial constructions of beauty and reality, incorporating a mental world that is chaotic, saturated, and obsessive. Belin fashions and photographs her models in a style reminiscent of film noir and overlays the photographs with elements from vintage comics and her own graphic patterns. These women look real to viewers but exist in the simulated, fantastical world of superheroes and mythology, and the glimpses viewers are seemingly afforded into their minds suggest they have embraced this hyper-reality.
Belin’s work has been exhibited extensively both domestically and abroad, including solo exhibitions at the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem; Huis Marseilles, Museum of Photography, Amsterdam; the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris and the Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne. A major retrospective, Les images intranquilles (Unquiet Images), was on view at the Centre Pompidou, Paris in 2015. Her work is in collections at The Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Musée d’art Moderne de la ville de Paris; Kunsthaus Zürich; Los Angeles County Museum; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Belin was awarded the Paris Photo prize in 1997, The CCF (HSBC) Foundation for Photography Prize in 2000 and the Prix Pictet in 2015. Since 2009, she has been honored with the chevalier position of France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Edwynn Houk Gallery premiered her newest series Painted Ladies at Paris Photo 2017. Belin lives and works in Paris.
At AIPAD 2018, the boldest, most challenging, and most socially relevant works at the fair were all produced by women. It was refreshing to see that contemporary dealers are closing the gap of representation equality, and that talent is surpassing maleness as the definitive criteria for contemporary gallery rosters.
Valérie Belin – Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York
French artist Valerie Belin presents one of her large-scaled Painted Ladies at Edwynn Houk’s booth. The work consists of a black and white photograph of an agency model. Collaborating with makeup artist Isamaya Ffrench, Belin employs make-up applications for painterly effects. Lady Round Brush is named in reference to the digital retouching tools that groom and optimize fashion pictures into hyper-idealizations. The physical make-up along with further post-processing techniques fracture the linear space of the portrait. The figure is excised from her expected presence within a glossy-paged fashion magazine and is introduced as a ghost-like figure that haunts the picture frame. The piece holds an indelible presence at the fair, and looms over passersby with the cognitive weight of a history painting.
Valérie Belin discussed her major exhibition at the Bernard Magrez Cultural Institute, on view until 25 March 2018. The artist cites Italian Baroque and American minimalism as major sources of inspiration for her works. In her own photographs, artificiality remains a consistent subject of inquiry—by blurring the lines between real and artificial, "confusion ensues" and the viewer is invited to "turn inward, to look at their own face, their own image." This process is apparent in each of her series, and she describes in depth the process of her Metisses series (2006) as an example. Belin says she asked women she met on the metro to model for her. She says she was interested in how these girls used makeup, wigs and blue contact lenses to radically alter their outward appearance. Belin emphasized this artificiality in her portraits. In her All Stars series (2016), this sense of confusion and blurring becomes visible vis-a-vis the comic book illustrations superimposed on top of the model's faces: the "details in the drawings convey the whirlwind of the woman's thoughts, the chaos in her mind," Belin says.
Purple Diary included "Female Torso with Black Sand" by Herb Ritts and "Lady Round Brush" by Valérie Belin, displayed in Edwynn Houk Gallery's booth at Paris Photo 2017, amongst their top selections from the fair. Photographs by August Sander, Edward Weston, Andre Kertesz, Sissi Farassat, and Vera Lutter were also included.
Another autumn means another Paris Photo 2017. The art fair is set to open on November 12 at the Grand Palais, where the Edwynn Houk Gallery will present its chosen showcases for the year. Featuring the likes of Valérie Belin, Dora Maar and Erwin Blumenfeld, the gallery is set for another exciting year at this prestigious art fair. Paris Photo 2017 will take place at Grand Palais, and Edwynn Houk Gallery is set to take part in the fair at Booth C22. This is Edwynn Houk Gallery's twentieth year exhibiting at the fair.
Held annually since 1997, Paris Photo is one of the world's most prestigious photography art fairs. It takes place at the magnificent and expansive Grand Palais building on the Champs-Élysées, which is so huge that they manage to pack 190 exhibitors from 29 countries while still allowing their art full room to breathe.
This year's fair is also connected with two big names. Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld is the guest of honour, sharing his personal favourites from the thousands of artworks on show. Rock legend Patti Smith is also curating a section of work. You probably won't get to see either in person, but their involvement adds an extra dash of energy and inventiveness that's one of the reasons Paris Photo still feels alive and fresh, 21 editions in.
Considered one of the most important French photographers of her generation, Valérie Belin won the prestigious Prix Pictet in 2015. The Bernard Magrez Cultural Institute presents, in the rooms of the Château Labottière, a vast selection of works from the most emblematic series by the artist. The photographs presented in this exhibition dialogue with each other and highlight the diversity of Valérie Belin's work. By the treatment of light, contrasts, proportions of prints and other parameters skilfully orchestrated, Valérie Belin plays with uncertainty. In front of her images, it is often difficult to determine what is alive or inanimate, real or virtual, natural or artificial.
There are only a few days left to contemplate Liberty, a work created by Valérie Belin for the perfumer Guerlain. The photograph, displayed on the ground floor of the shop located on the Champs-Élysées, is presented as part of "Women Seen by Women: Revelation," an exhibition in partnership with Jean-Luc Monterosso, Director of the Maison Européenne de la Photographie.
Valérie Belin explores the materiality of matter, primarily using the human form and its manmade and virtual representations. A central theme is her work is the boundary between reality and illusion; where, in our perception, in our habit of seeing and understanding, does this lie?
French artist Valérie Belin was born in 1964, and is currently based in Paris. Belin has been developing themes of disorder and chaos, creating works that are both visually and psychologically complex. Main concepts behind the All Star series exhibited at AIPAD examine stereotypes, psychology, and consumerism. Her photographic composites feature super-heroines in high-fashion settings with vintage comic book imagery. Through this unusual juxtaposition, Belin creates an alternate story. In 2015, Belin was awarded the Prix Pictet in 2015 for her work titled Disorder. She has exhibited in major institutions worldwide, including Centre Pompidou in Paris and New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.
In Valérie Belin’s latest series, All Star (2016), currently on view at Edwynn Houk Gallery in New York, Belin places the faces of pale, idealized women against a background of digitally collaged, 1950s comic strips. The unidentified, unnamed models appear passive, almost forlorn, with eyes cast down or obscured by shadow. Rife with scenes of chaos and destruction, the composition and graphic quality of the images evokes nightmarish magazine covers, but each print stands about five-and-a-half feet tall—miniature billboards in scale. How confusing, how chaotic, how layered—and yet, how consumable.
Valérie Belin will present her newest series, "All Star" at Edwynn Houk Gallery. The exhibition of eleven large-scale color photographs will be on view January 19 - March 4, 2017.
In conjuction with the show, Valérie Belin will be in conversation with Quentin Bajac, at Albertine bookstore on February, 28th at 7pm. Quentin Bajac is the Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz Chief Curator of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. They will discuss Belin’s new book, Valerie Belin(Damiani, 288 pages, $55) which surveys her stunning series from Magicians, Bouquets and Lido to Brides, Bob, and Black Eyed Susan and continuing up to recent work including Super Models and All Stars. The conversation will be followed by a book signing.
Valérie Belin's work Electra from the series Super Models is featured on the cover of Art Basel Miami Beach Magazine!
The French photographer Valérie Belin has won the sixth Prix Pictet for photography, for her series “Still life, 2014.” The award was announced by Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations and the honorary president of the prize, on Thursday at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, at the opening reception for an exhibition of work by the 12 finalists.
Valérie Belin has won the sixth Prix Pictet photography prize, selected from a shortlist of twelve photographers. She is being recognized for “Still life,” 2014, which she describes as “a jarring commentary on the effects of our obsession with cheap objects, for not only is their material, plastic, emblematic of the wasteful use of raw materials, but it also represents a grotesque kind of immortality because of its non-biodegradable nature—an immortality that, one could say, is slowly killing the planet.” Belin has had a solo show at the Pompidou and lives and works in Paris, France.
Every year, the Association of International Photography Art Dealers—or AIPAD for short—brings together more than 80 blue-ribbon galleries from all corners of the globe to showcase some of the most iconic, arresting, and progressive photography, video and new media from around the world. The show, now its 33rd year, filled the Park Avenue Armory last weekend with works from the likes of Irving Penn, Bill Brandt, Hendrik Kerstens, as well as W contributors like Alex Prager and Rineke Dijkstra. Though the show wrapped on Sunday, there are still a few images that we can’t get out of our heads. Here is a selection of the most striking.
French photographer Valerie Belin has photographed body builders, potato-chip bags and car wrecks. In her latest series Black Eyed Susan, she turns her lens on a dreamy montage of women who embody the ideal post-war female, interlaid with sharp images of flowers. The work, now out in a new book out by JRP Ringier, show how Belin’s background as a painter, and technical skills as a photographer, continue to create surprising images which toy with the idea of illusion and image.