Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Book Review: Les Françaises by Sonia Sieff

credit: © Les Francaises by Sonia Sieff, Rizzoli new York, 2017.

 [A review copy was sent to me by the publisher.]
Sonia Sieff is a French photographer whose premiere book, Les Françaises, is a provocative debut of more than 200 color female nudes. I will admit that I knew next to nothing about Sonia Sieff before receiving this book for review and I didn't quite realize the book was solely dedicated to the nude photographs until I received it. I'll also admit that I was fully prepared for something altogether different when I opened up the first pages--something aggressive and posed and perhaps even unpleasant, similar to what a person might find in an erotic magazine.

What I discovered was the complete opposite of the male-oriented gaze that I had anticipated: the images featured in this volume are taken from Sonia's female perspective and her ability to highlight the nude body--the 'natural state'--without sexualizing it was very intriguing.

The photographs are soft, intimate, and what sensuality does exist is not forced. There are no overt "seductive" or "sexual" poses, but rather images that capture a moment in time, a personality, a hobby, a favorite place, a secret. A woman standing in the window of a centuries-old home, smiling through the green foliage that has grown up around it; a woman, hand on her forehead, lost in thought while seated in a dusty old movie theater; a woman sitting on a plush chair while thoughtfully perusing a carefully curated bookshelf behind her; a woman sitting on a log at the beach, watching a wave come to shore as the wind blows her hair. As Sonia herself describes, "Au naturel, they reveal their world, their secrets. These are portraits of women whom I admire. They could all be sisters or friends."

I would recommend Les Françaises if you are interested in avant-garde French photography or a intimate look at the female nude through a talented female photographer's lens.

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