Madonna, Monica Bellucci, Angelina Jolie… In Nice, photographer Bettina Rheims exhibits moments of feminine grace

Madonna, Monica Bellucci, Angelina Jolie… In Nice, photographer Bettina Rheims exhibits moments of feminine grace
Madonna, Monica Bellucci, Angelina Jolie… In Nice, photographer Bettina Rheims exhibits moments of feminine grace

The exhibition “Why did you abandon me?” by photographer Bettina Rheims, comprising around thirty portraits of women, is visible until September 29 at the Nice Photography Museum.

From pop star Madonna to actress Angelina Jolie, French photographer Bettina Rheims has been exhibiting around thirty portraits of sublime, disturbing and touching women since Saturday at the Nice Photography Museum. Initially, these images were commissions, produced between 1994 and 2013 for magazines, advertisements, the cover of an album or the release of a film, says the 71-year-old artist, who signed the official portrait of the French President Jacques Chirac in 1995.

“These are images that are not made to last”, she explains. But “from time to time, I pick up an image, which I take out of its original destination (…) thinking that perhaps it is worth a little more, perhaps that it deserves to accompany me further”.

Carefully scripted portraits

Like the exhibition poster, which shows actress Kristin Scott Thomas staring intently into the camera while removing a blonde wig, each portrait is carefully scripted, with meticulous preparation work to create a universe for each of “these girls who are photographed every day, by the greatest photographers in the world”.

Despite the preparation, a path is put in place between the photographer and her subject to achieve “go look for something unique, something different”explains Bettina Rheims, recounting how she captured the young ingénue actress Monica Bellucci having just spilled a bottle of ketchup on spaghetti or Rose MacGowen emerging naked from a bath full of roses.

“I’m not here to trap them”adds the artist, while the sensuality of the poses can also seem very suggestive. “It’s an exchange, a relationship of great intimacy. I am aware that there is a red line and it does not cross to the other side. They know it and that’s what makes them open up.” The exhibition is on view until September 29.

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