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The Raw Power of Bettina Rheims

The Raw Power of Bettina Rheims

Bettina Rheims

The French provocateur's vision of brash femininity shines in a new Taschen anthology.

Pictured: Lara Stone on the book cover (left); Monica Bellucci (top, right); Kristin Scott Thomas (bottom, right). Courtesy of Bettina Rheims

French provocateur Bettina Rheims has been constructing a singular brand of brash, fiercely feminine sexuality since the 1970s. Now the best and boldest of her oeuvre has been collected in Bettina Rheims, a definitive monograph with more than 500 images selected by the photographer herself. The women in these pictures are far from shrinking violets -- they are strippers in the Pigalle district of Paris, Gina Gershon and Elizabeth Berkley vamping on the set of Showgirls, and feisty icons like Catherine Deneuve, Madonna, Kate Moss, and Naomi Campbell. Whether it's a shot of a model flashing her nether regions or crying in a seedy hotel room, Rheims's depictions are voyeuristic, intimate, erotic, and sometimes unsettling. As art critic Catherine Millet said in 2008, "She has understood that this is what she does: show equivocal moments, but show them raw." If Rheims's work captures a certain beauty, it's often a bruised and defiant one.

$69.99. Available now at Taschen.com and Taschen stores

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