Friday, January 19, 2007

"Madonna laughing and holding her breasts" (1994) by Bettina Rheims

"Madonna laughing and holding her breasts" (1994) by Bettina Rheims (1952, Paris), estimated at 10,000—15,000 GBP

LOT 545 from the Contemporary Art Auction at Sotheby's London, Olympia (7 Feb 2007)

Stylistically the present work is linked to Rheims' Chambre Close project of 2002 with its subject, in this case Madonna, posing as a 1930's French prostitute. As with her other young female subjects, Rheims places Madonna in a 'fake reality'. The photograph is meticulously staged and the production flawless, complete with stylists, set design and careful lighting. The artist's concern with detail extended to scouring Paris to find the exact wallpaper she wanted for this recreation of a French hotel.

Her previous experiences as a model most likely contributed to the artist's clear understanding of the seductive language of media imagery so strong in this work. Typical of contemporary photography, the image is brimming with sensuality, exploring themes of female glamour, sexuality and power.

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