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Photo London announces Valérie Belin as Master of Photography 2024

Photo London has announced its ninth edition with French photographer Valérie Belin named Photo London Master of Photography 2024, alongside two further major exhibitions as part of its Public Programme, and an exciting line-up of exhibitors.

Valérie Belin, Still Life with mirror, 2014. From the series Still Life. Copyright Valérie Belin. Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadia Paris/Brussels

The work of the acclaimed French photographer Valérie Belin is intriguingly positioned at the intersection of art and photography. Over the course of her career her image making has attracted significant international recognition. She is represented in many important private and public collections around the world. In 2015 she became the first woman to win the Prix Pictet. Her winning series ‘Still Life’ typifies her approach featuring arrangements of cheap consumer items in elaborate compositions that echo classical vanitas and memento mori paintings. At this point in our own development, Valérie’s brilliant playful mix of art and photography makes her the ideal Master of Photography.

Silent Stories’ presents three decades of Belin’s works, reflecting an iconography that is deliberately silent through images that — in the words of their creator — ”are neither narrative nor documentary and tell no particular stories, but are designed to be seen as the mirror of fictions without words.

Fair Founders Michael Benson and Fariba Farshad
Valérie Belin, Carol, 2016. From the series All Star. Copyright Valérie Belin. Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadia Paris/Brusse

A celebration of the medium in all its forms, Photo London presents the best of the past, present and future of photography. Highlights of the 2024 edition include:

Valérie Belin, Photo London Master of Photography 2024, presents the exhibition
‘Silent Stories’;

Robert Hershkowitz curates ‘The Magic Art of French Calotype. Paper Negative
Photography 1846 – 1860’;

Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation celebrates the 25th anniversary of its
collection with the exhibition ‘See/Change — Art Collection Deutsche Börse @25’
curated by Anne-Marie Beckmann and Renée Mussai;

Belmond is curating a photographic space that evolves their ‘Belmond Legends’
series, where Belmond’s iconic destinations are captured through the lens of
internationally acclaimed artists;

Kamiar Maleki, Photo London Fair Director, curates the Main Section of the fair for
the first time;

Charlotte Jansen curates the Discovery Section for emerging photographers and
galleries;

Photo London x Nikon Emerging Photographer of the Year returns for its fifth
cycle with last year’s winner Léa Habourdin and fellow shortlisted artists on display;

Photo London x Hahnemühle Student Award returns for its second year,
platforming outstanding works by students enrolled in photography degrees at UK
universities;

Thames & Hudson leads the 2024 Talks Programme, with contributions from
Nikon and FT Weekend;

An enhanced VIP Programme collaborating with art and photography collections
across London.

PHOTO LONDON 2024 EXHIBITIONS

Leading the 2024 Public Programme is a solo exhibition by Valérie Belin, the ninth recipient of the Photo London Master of Photography Award which is presented each year to a living artist who has made an exceptional contribution to photography.

Valérie Belin, Lady Stripes, 2017. From the series Painted Ladies. Copyright Valérie Belin. Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadia Paris/Brussels

One of France’s most popular and acclaimed photographers, Valérie Belin (b. 1964) investigates the tension between the superficial appearance of things and their true nature, between reality and artificiality. Often using the human body as a vessel for abstraction and projected meaning, she has photographed live models and mannequins, masks and card sharks, dancers and bodybuilders, questioning the construction and fetishization of mainstream beauty ideals and enduring gender constructs.

On receiving the accolade, Belin stated:

I am deeply honoured to have been chosen to showcase my work as the 2024 Master of Photography. For me, this award represents the recognition of 30 years’ work and will be an opportunity to show the Photo London audience the vitality of contemporary photography by women.

Charles Nègre, Street Vendor, c.1852. Courtesy of Robert Hershkowitz Ltd.

The Fair extends its celebration of French photography with ‘The Magic Art of French Calotype. Paper Negative Photography 1846–1860’, curated by Robert Hershkowitz. Its title references Francis Wey’s pronouncement in 1851 that “Photography has attained a magic feeling that neither painting nor drawing could have reached.”

Hershkowitz explains the appeal of these early images:

When the pursuit and acquisition of fine photographs became the common passion of a very mixed group of art savvy individuals and American and Canadian museums in the late 1970s, early French paper negative photography was considered the most desirable, the images the most intriguing intellectually, the prints the most delectable. This exhibition introduces this body of photographic work to a British audience; it is almost non-existent in British institutions with perhaps a few dozen examples buried among hundreds of thousands of British ones, and these never exhibited.

A third exhibition will be presented by the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation marking the 25th anniversary of its collection — one of the most renowned international collections of contemporary photography, which comprises more than 2,300 works by 160 artists from 35 countries.

Curated by Anne-Marie Beckmann, Director of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, and Renée Mussai, London-based independent curator and scholar, and member of the Foundation’s Advisory Board, ‘See/Change — Art Collection Deutsche Börse @25’ showcases current artistic positions and recent acquisitions centred around the theme of human condition.

Sim Chi Yin, Shifting Sands #25, 2017. © Sim Chi Yin. Courtesy of Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation.

Critically reflecting on poignant matters ranging from subjectivity and freedom, environmental and climate change to community activism, migration, transformation and selfhood through an international lens, works by artists such as Daniel Jack Lyons, Mohamed Bourouissa, Vanessa Winship, Sim Chi Yin, Marvel Harris and Sabiha Cimen will spotlight the diversity of the continuously growing collection, with a focus on portraiture(s) of people and places.

We are very excited to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Art Collection Deutsche Börse in 2024. In this special year, the exhibition at Photo London is a particular highlight of our programme and we are delighted to present a curated selection of our collection of contemporary photography to an international audience.

— Anne-Marie Beckmann, Director of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation

Photo London, 16th – 19th May 2024, Somerset House, Photolondon.org

Preview 15th May 2024

Valérie Belin (b. Boulogne-Billancourt, 1964; lives and works in Paris) graduated from the E?cole Nationale des Beaux-arts in 1988, where she focused on American art of the ’60s and ’70s. She furthered her studies by pursuing philosophy of art at the Universite? Panthe?on-Sorbonne in Paris. Her work has gained global recognition, with solo exhibitions held at prestigious institutions such as the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA; and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; amongst others. Her work is the subject of a major exhibition at the Muse?e des Beaux-Art de Bordeaux from 24 April – 28 October this year.

Belin has been recognized for her contributions to the field of photography with numerous awards, including the Paris Photo prize in 1997, the CCF (HSBC) Foundation for Photography Prize in 2000, and the Prix Pictet in 2015. In 2022, she was appointed Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres.

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