press release

For the first time in the Netherlands, the Kunsthal Rotterdam presents a retrospective of Bettina Rheims (Paris, 1952), France's most celebrated contemporary photographer. A selection of over 130 works has been compiled from various series, from her debut Female Trouble (1981-1991) to her most recent Shanghai (2003). At first glance, her photographs look as if they come from a glossy magazine. As a former glamour and fashion photographer, she has mastered this form of photography to perfection. But at the same time she subtly deforms her models, creating a surprising or even indefinable image when you consider it a second time. Bettina Rheims' prime subject is glamour - not sentiment, not nostalgia and not even beauty. Even though such celebrities as Claudia Schiffer, Kylie Minogue, Angelina Jolie and Madonna have posed before her camera, the photos have nothing to do with fame or celebrity. It is all about glamour, and glamour alone. At the heart of these photos is a keen awareness of the creation of an illusion - a tension between the artificial and the real. In short, everything glamour is about. The exhibition also features subjects other than women, presented using a similar style, such as the stuffed animals of the Animal series and the Jesus-inspired scenes of the I.N.R.I. series. This major retrospective includes works from the following series: Female Trouble, Animal, Modern Lovers, Chambre Close, Les Espionnes, Kim Harlow, I.N.R.I., Xmas, Morceaux choisis, Pourquoi m'as-tu abandonnée? and Shanghai. Published by Schirmer/Mosel Verlag (Munich), a catalogue bearing the same name as the retrospective (available both in English and German) accompanies the exhibition.

Catalogue: Bettina Reims, Retrospective Collaboration: Galerie Jérôme B20de Noirmont, Paris

Bettina Rheims