Seeing that my photography sometimes includes nude women, I am occasionally asked “How do you get them to take their clothes off?”. It is a question I find perplexing. It shocks me to think that people would surmise that these beautiful women are somehow tricked out of their clothes and that they are not freely being part of the art or creation. It truly befuddles me.
To that point I just read this wonderful story in “The New Yorker” magazine. “The Opposite Of A Muse” by Anna Heyward. I am not going to try to summarize but merely use a few quotes to explain the story of Isabelle Mage. Click on the photograph to read the entire feature and see more photographs.
“At the time she came to Paris, she had never met an artist, and had been to few museum shows, but she collected record covers and postcards of images that appealed to her. One Saturday in mid-July, she went alone to an exhibition by the portrait photographer Jeanloup Sieff at the Musée d’Art Moderne. Stunned by the images, which depicted anonymous and ordinary, as well as famous, subjects, she wrote to Sieff, telling him that she liked his work. To her surprise, he telephoned her a few days later. She wrote in her diary, which she kept from 1986 until 2008, “He calls me, I’m extremely moved, surprised, I feel drunk.” She asked him if he would consider making a picture of her.”
“She began looking at photography books, buying magazines, and keeping track of the names in the exhibitions she visited. Methodically, and recording her activities in brief, elliptical diary entries, she sought out other artists, explaining how she had encountered their work and asking to be used in it.”
“By 1990, Mège’s collection had grown to around sixty images—most of them black-and-white, and almost all nude, as she preferred to be photographed.”