Ellen von Unwerth, Fräulein, Rouilly le Bas, 2002, © Ellen von Unwerth, courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery.
Ellen von Unwerth, Mask, Paris, 1991, © Ellen von Unwerth, courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery.
Michael Hoppen Contemporary
3 Jubilee Place
+44 (0)20 7352 3649
Ellen von Unwerth
October 14-November 15, 2009
Ellen von Unwerth worked as a fashion model for ten years before moving behind the camera. Quoted as saying "(Women) are not just there to be admired, they are there to be enjoyed," her erotically charged images of models, film and music stars are as well known as the subjects of the photographs themselves. Fräulein; features personal favourites of never previously seen images from the last 15 years.
Her sensual campaigns for Guess? in the early 1990s launched Von Unwerth's commercial career, and subsequently she has created campaigns for Baccardi, Victoria's Secret, Banana Republic, Tommy Hilfiger, H&M, Diesel, Chanel, Miu Miu, Blumarine as well as a series of publicity advertisements for HBO's Sex and the City. Von Unwerth has also ventured into directing short films for Azzedine Alaïa and Katherine Hamnett, music videos for artists such as Duran Duran and commercials for Baccardi and Clinique.
In addition to her career as fashion photographer, film-maker, and video director, her work has been collected in numerous books and two photo-novellas. Von Unwerth's first book, Snaps, was published in 1994 followed by Wicked (1998), and Couples (1999). Her photo-novella Revenge was published in 2003 accompanied by exhibitions in New York, Paris, Amsterdam, and Hamburg. Her photographs have been widely exhibited internationally including in Archaeology of Elegence (2001-2), and Fashioning Fiction exhibited at MoMA/Queens in 2004.
The exhibition at Michael Hoppen is a collaboration with TASCHEN which is publishing a major monograph of Ellen von Unwerth’s work, also entitled Fräulein. The text is written by Ingrid Sischy, the former editor in chief of Intervie magazine and currently fashion critic at the New Yorker and a contributing editor for Vanity Fair.
The exhibition and monograph celebrate female icons in provocative poses: Claudia Schiffer, Penelope Cruz, Natalie Portman, Kate Moss, Vanessa Paradis, Britney Spears, Eva Mendes, Lindsay Lohan, Dita von Teese, Adriana Lima, Carla Bruni, Eva Green among many others.
Known for her casual, playful attitude on shoots, her lack of pretense is the key to why her photographs resonate — they feel warm, human and fun. Von Unwerth's photography revels in sexual intrigue, femininity, fetishism and sheer joie de vivre. Her subjects are never objectified, even though some may flaunt personal fantasies and others are guarded and secretive, suggesting that we have stumbled into a secret world. Fashion and fantasy are enthrallingly combined in a way no male photographer could dare.
A supermodel before the phrase was truly coined, von Unwerth is responsible for several books of photography, as well as directing fashion short films and music videos. Top journals such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Arena, L’uomo Vogue, and ID have been consistent users of her inimitable fashion photography since she first picked up a camera.
Ellen von Unwerth, Raquel Welch, © Ellen von Unwerth, courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery.