Aesthetics of supermodels: Exhibition at Galerie Duret
Jacques Burga, Fred Meylan, Sylvie Castioni, Sabine Villiard, Félix Dol-Maillot,
Pierre-Alban Hüe de Fontenay, Denis Boulze
Curated by Nikita Dmitriev
February 26 – March 9, 2022
Opening reception: March 3, 6 – 9 pm
7 rue des Saints-Pères, 75006 Paris
The 1990s – or more precisely 12 years between the fall of the Berlin Wall and 9/11 – have gone down in Western history not only as a decade of optimism and prosperity, but also as a time of production of the extraordinarily powerful and enduring images. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to declare that almost all the major today’s pop culture references had been created then. Simpsons, Friends and Sex and the City, Home Alone, Basic Instinct and Pulp Fiction, Spice Girls, Britney Spears and even techno parties – paradoxically enough, both the “parents” born in the late 1970s and the “children” born in the 2000s perceive all this as part of their own upbringing. Massive cultural comeback of the Nineties is a contemporary phenomenon that cannot be ignored. Just a few weeks ago, Friends broke all records for the number of views on streaming platforms like Netflix among the youngest segment of the audience. But above all, the Nineties is the era of supermodels.
Its arrival is marked by the world-famous American Vogue cover of January 1990, where on the photo taken by Peter Lindbergh together are present Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington. At that moment, fashion photography entered its golden age, comparable to what was the time of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Botticelli for painting. Statue-like poses, return of the concept of the muse, ever-presence of naked bodies, obsession with the ideal proportions and that specific type of beauty which could be qualified as “supernatural” – these traits make the 1990s fashion photography much closer to Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus than, say, to Twiggy and the «Swinging Sixties».
This «classicism of the Nineties» did not fall into oblivion with the era that gave it birth, but became one of the «eternal styles» that will never fade from the memory of mankind. In particular, it inspires the participants of the current show at the Galerie Duret, taking place during Paris Fashion Week, award-winning photographers Jacques Burga, Fred Meylan, Sylvie Castioni, Sabine Villiard, Félix Dol-Maillot, Pierre- Alban Hüe de Fontenay and Denis Boulze. Among them, Jacques Burga, Sylvie Castioni, and Fred Meylan portray a woman-goddess, almost overwhelming the public with her physical splendor, or a major figure of polite society, a new Marie-Antoinette or Madame de Pompadour. In turn, Félix Dol-Maillot, Denis Boulze, and Pierre-Alban Hüe de Fontenay are interested in a more intimate and home-like staging, uninhibited poses of the models alluding to their close relationship with the photographer.
As for Sabine Villiard’s images, their full-bodied and extravagant scenography gives to the rest of the show a cheerful surrealist counterpoint. The profound individuality of each of the photographers doesn’t conflict with the existence of some direct correspondences between their visual worlds. Actress Léa Seydoux is photographed by both Fred Meylan and Sylvie Castioni. The cigarette with all the multiplicity of references specific to it is present in the pictures taken by Sylvie Castioni and Pierre-Alban Hüe de Fontenay. Denim – the emblematic fabric of the Nineties – finds its place in the images of Fred Meylan and Félix Dol-Maillot. Altogether, these visuals are witnessing the continuation of the 1990s aesthetic in the creative practice of contemporary photographers.
Paris-based art critic and independent curator, Nikita Dmitriev had been writing about art for magazines like Le Figaro, Télérama, Artpress, Le Quotidien de l’Art, Gazette Drouot, i-D, The Art Newspaper.
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