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Ellen von Unwerth, Queen of Female Sensuality

Ice Cold, Los Angeles, 2012

Acumen Magazine x Galerie Joseph

April 5, 2023

By Nathalie Dassa



United States – Los Angeles

The Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles brings to light the vibrant, candid, and incredibly sexy work of this legendary photographer who has shaped the worlds of art, fashion, film, and media.

She defined the aesthetic of the 1990s and 2000s, creating cinematic scenarios in her flashy, saucy, and humorous shoots. She started out as a 20-year-old model in the mid-1970s, and ten years later, she was able to fuel her ambitions and fill her curriculum by stepping behind the lens. In a few short years, Ellen von Unwerth has built a name for herself, transcending sexy fashion images into a modern, assertive, dominant, and forward-thinking approach to the representation of women. While she has collaborated – and still does – with the biggest magazines, she also wears many hats. This 69-year-old photography staple produces short films, directs music videos, and continues to create campaigns for Chanel, Victoria’s Secret, and of course Guess, which represents her most iconic work. Since 2018, she has also headed her own magazine, Ellen von Unwerth’s VON. In 2021, she released her new book, Fräulein, an explosive collection that celebrates sexuality and female icons Claudia Schiffer, Kate Moss, Vanessa Paradis, Eva Mendes, and Dita Von Teese, to Taschen editions.


Through the exhibition “Bombshell” at the Fahey/Klein Gallery in Los Angeles, this native of Frankfurt, Germany invites us to “a noisy escapade.” The curation shows her “experimentation” between tight framing, grain, bright colors, and expressive blacks and whites. Her fantastical compositions with an erotic touch explore her own fascination with the narratives behind places, situations, and characters. The shots are always spontaneous, playful, and lively, with the models at the heart of their sex appeal. “Throughout history, we’ve talked a lot about emancipation, but when you look at a lot of old movies, the woman has always been portrayed as this Femme Fatale, shamelessly,” she says in the December 2019 Playboy relayed by the gallery. “Like Brigitte Bardot, she was super sexy, coquettish, but in control. Being a beautiful woman who could also be in total control of her life, that’s how I photograph them and how I see them. They control and use their beauty, personality, charm, humor, and intelligence to get what they want.”


“Bombshell” Exhibition

Through April 29, 2023

Fahey/Klein Gallery

Los Angeles, USA