Vanessa Beecroft

(b. 1969)

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(1969– )

Italian Performance artist, born in Genoa and active in New York. She organizes tableaux of nude or semi-nude women in a museum context. The models are expected to hold the pose—‘think of themselves as objects in a painting’—while the viewer observes but does not interact with them. Her first exhibition, in 1993, was based on a diary which recounted her bulimia, and some writers have speculated that her fascination with the body is linked to this. For an exhibition in Berlin in 2005 she used 100 women of different ages, naked except for see-through tights, with hair in the colours of the German flag. There is a link between Beecroft's work and the fashion industry and in 2005 she made a work to mark the opening of a new Louis Vuitton store in Paris. She has expressed her admiration for the German photographer Helmut Newton (1920–2004), who in his erotic nude photographs, according to Beecroft, ‘makes [women] into beautiful objects which are horrible at the same time’. Not surprisingly the voyeuristic appeal of the work has been attacked by feminists and there has also been controversy about her attempt to adopt Sudanese children. One of the rare occasions on which she appears in her own work is in a photograph of herself in a white dress with two black children at her breast.

Further Reading

L. Harding, ‘Take 100 nudes’, The Guardian (11 April 2005)

Subjects: Art.

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