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Interview with photographer Sylvie Blum

Sylvie Blum: Naked Beauty


In the foreword to “Naked Beauty”, Anne Wilkes Tucker, Curator of Photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, writes “Sylvie Blum’s independent and striking photographs are uniquely her own, yet exist in a tradition of women who photograph female nudes, a history that is not fully written.” Her images expand on a German tradition of female photographers such as Dora Menzler, Alice Bloch, and Erna Schulmann “who used photography of nude models to promote dance and gymnastics as ways to exalt the beauty of the human body.”  Anne Wilkes Tucker states, “[Sylvie Blum’s] women are physically fit, not delicate waifs.  They are proud of their athleticism and display balance and control over their exceptionally limber bodies.”

Like many contemporary female photographers, such as Sarah Moon and Ellen Von Unwerth, Sylvie Blum’s introduction to the world of photography began in front of the lens as a model.  Working in Europe for over ten years, Sylvie posed for esteemed photographers such as Helmut Newton, Jan Saudek, Lucien Clergue, Jeanloup Sieff, and Andreas Bitesnich.  In 1991, Blum met photographer Günter Blum and became “his model, his muse, and in 1995, his wife”.  Working with Günter Blum, Sylvie Blum, “expanded and refined her understanding of light, composition, and other basic aspects of fine photography.  After her husband’s long illness and death in 1997, Blum brought to her own budding career as a photographer her knowledge accumulated as a model and as an archivist of her husband’s photographs.” (Anne Wilkes Tucker, Foreword to Naked Beauty)

Sylvie Blum’s experience as a model adds a unique and authentic depth to her images.  There is a mutual sense of comfort and trust palpable in each image. “It’s clear that these sessions were collaborations with women whom Blum likes and respects and who in turn like and respect her.” (Anne Wilkes Tucker, Foreword to Naked Beauty)

Sylvie Blum’s first publication, “Venus Selbst, (Venus Herself)” (Publisher, 2000), a collection of self portraits, was followed by three later publications, “Nudes, 2002”, “Hotel Orient, 2002”, and “M, Like Male Nudes”, 2004 Edition Braus, Germany and Power House Books, New York.  Sylvie lives and works in Los Angeles.