It’s the age of androgyny and gender-questioning. New icons include Tilda Swinton, David Bowie and Annie Lenox. People experiment in search of their identity, while porn chic becomes an aesthetic. Bettina Rheims takes up her camera.
The French model and journalist was influenced by Helmut Newton when she set upon creating a photoghraphy series that would define her generation. ”Androgyny was one of the ways of seduction, maybe, but inventing a new attitude towards the impossibility to have sex,’’ she’d explain years later.
The black-and-white portraits showed the adolescents, including Kate Moss, aged 15, a year before her first, memorable shoot with Corinne Day. Half-cut nudes spoke via models’ posture and eyes, where piercing gaze expressed modern attitudes and re-defined beauty.
Two decades later, Rheims will present her Gender Studies – portrait series of transsexuals and an examination of androgyny after entering the new century.
The new compilation of photographic works by Bettina Rheims is out now via Taschen. See here.