Sunday 25 October 2009

Ellen von Unwerth at the Michael Hoppen Gallery

On Friday I popped down to the Michael Hoppen Gallery en route to the V&A to see the new Ellen von Unwerth exhibition ‘Fräulien’, which accompanies a new Taschen limited edition monograph. The exhibition features 20 of Ellen’s favourites and includes some previously unseen images from the past 15 years making it very exciting indeed.
The exhibition and monograph celebrate female icons in provocative poses: Claudia Schiffer, Natalie Portman, Kate Moss, Britney Spears, Eva Mendes, Dita von Teese, and Eva Green among many others.
As a big fan of Ellen’s body of work personal highlights of the exhibition included huge scale prints of a young Kate Moss pictured squatting beside an open fridge drinking milk provocatively with a cucumber poking out of her shopping bag. What I love about this image is the wit and cheeky playfulness that shines through.
Another of the Supermodel set also featured Claudia Schiffer. Whilst this is a simple portrait of Claudia I loved the graininess of the image for two reasons. Firstly it makes her look more curvaceous as the line of her body is blurred and secondly, it ages the image making it reminiscent to me of a young Brigitte Bardot or Ursula Andress.
All in all a great little exhibition which I feel captures the essence of why Ellen von Unwerth is such a widely renowned female subject photographer perfectly. For me she is a genius at juxtaposing strong female sexuality with this unique sense of vulnerability wrapped up in the form of a fashion image. I love that her subjects are never objectified and are instead captured dominating the image and having fun.
The only negative thing is that if you’re hoping to find someone on hand to ask questions or discuss the work with don’t bother visiting the Michael Hoppen gallery as the staff were very dismissive and rather rude. Very strange behaviour seeing that all the prints in the exhibition are on sale, you’d think they’d be jumping on everyone who walked through the door. Perhaps I just don’t belong in Chelsea?!
This exhibition is free and is showing until 21st November.

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