Belgian Photographer Marc Lagrange Reimagines the Classic Female Nude
In Italian, “Senza Parole” means “without words.” It’s an apt title for Marc Lagrange’s new show at Galeries Bartoux in Paris: first-time viewers of the Belgian artist’s sumptuous photographs of female nudes may be rendered speechless, indeed.
Lagrange’s work is striking, in part for its unabashed devotion to female beauty and eroticism. His photographs of nude or partly nude models in luxurious settings—shot mostly in black and white or sepia tones—sometimes resemble imagery found in fashion magazines or sports car advertisements. His glamorous aesthetic fuses classical beauty with contemporary allusions: think Christian Louboutins, lace, and lithe women with smoky eyes and undulating waves of shining hair.
Lagrange takes an updated approach to a long-celebrated form: the female nude. In some photographs, his models are moving around or engaged in physical feats, as in Tusk (2015), in which a naked woman hangs athletically off of an elephant’s tusks. Sometimes he creates contemporary adaptations of classical scenes. The central figure of In vino veritas (ca. 2014), for example, isn’t reclining like the nudes who preceded her in works like Ingres’ La Grand Odalisque (1814). Instead, she sits upright at a table, drinking wine and wearing only stilettos.
Thanks to Lagrange’s active engagement with his subjects and his detailed approach to styling and staging, his works transcend the classic glamour shot. They’re aspirational images: the scenes Lagrange crafts and captures represent a fantasy world. But his subjects’ expressions and body language hint at the cracks of a beautiful facade, alluding to the personalities that exists behind glossy veneers.