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.
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.
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.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the saying goes, but where do you start when defining this elusive ideal? ZEALnyc gives you some pointers on where to begin. This week we’re interested in Valérie Belin and her take on women, image and reality. Look for a bonus tip to learn more about her work. As always, all listings are free admission.
French artist Valérie Belin has an intuitive gift for the space where beauty, glamour, artifice, surface, and disorder meet and fuse into a riotous blend of energy. Her newest series, All Star, features a selection of eleven large-scale color photographs that pull you into their spell. Combining portraits of feminine glamour with iconography taken from vintage comics, Belin weaves a wonderland of psychological complexity that moves between the sunshine of the fashion photograph and the mystique of film noir to create a new genre where the polarities of good and evil and joy and despair merge with endless ambiguity. Valérie Belin: All Star is on view at Edwynn Houk Gallery now through March 4, 2017.
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!
Valérie Belin's show is named one of the top 15 photo shows on view in NYC by Time Out New York
To read the full article, please visit The W Magazine Viewfinder.
Valérie Belin will present her recent photographic series at a conference (in French), organized during a workshop led by the artist in the department of higher education at the school of photography in Vevey, from 11 to 15 March 2013.
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