Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin
Inez van Lamsweerde (born 25 September 1963, Amsterdam, Netherlands) & Vinoodh Matadin (born 29 September 1961, Amsterdam, Netherlands) are a Dutch fashion photographer duo, well known for their work for fashion magazines, advertising campaigns, and for their independent art work.
Lives and career
For over 25 years, Inez van Lamsweerde (1963– ) and Vinoodh Matadin (1961– ) have worked in the field of fashion photography. Working together since 1986, the award-winning Dutch partnership has built a peerless archive of work that is consistently setting new standards. Inez and Vinoodh are extremely rare in managing a successful art career in parallel to these phenomenal commercial activities. They have staged many solo exhibitions and collaborative projects at the world’s foremost galleries, participated in scores of international group shows and their artworks are held in numerous private and museum collections. Inez and Vinoodh live in New York with their son, Charles Star Matadin.
Inez and Vinoodh met at the Vogue Academy of fashion design in their hometown, Amsterdam, where they both initially studied fashion design — Vinoodh from 1981 to 1985 and Inez from 1983 to 1985. She proceeded to take a Masters in photography at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie (1985–90), while Vinoodh founded the Lawina clothing line with his academy classmate Rick Bovendeert. A commission for Inez to photograph the 1986 Lawina collection led to Vinoodh beginning to work with her, first as a stylist and eventually in 1995 as co-author of the images they produce together. The Lawina label closed in 1990 when Inez graduated and the pair began practicing formally as artists. A yearlong residency awarded to Inez by PS1 Contemporary Art Center in New York from 1992 to 1993 marked the beginning of a period of intense experimentation with the latest digital technology for the pair. This culminated in their first important bodies of work; fantastical sequences that simultaneously critiqued and celebrated the culture of commercial image making through computer manipulation. Using Paintbox software to smooth out and remove the nipples and orifices of nudes, Thank You Thighmaster (1993) captured the imagination of art critics with its sophisticated interplay of elegance and horror. Final Fantasy (1993) likewise challenged taboos about child sexuality through digitally grafting the mouths of men onto the faces of toddler children.
As Inez and Vinoodh’s notoriety burgeoned in the art world, the fashion community became equally captivated by their early editorial assignments for the style magazine BLVD in Amsterdam, where the two were now living. A breakthrough story republished as For Your Pleasure in British style magazine The Face in April 1994 added high-octane glamour to the dark and unsettling tenor of their work and marked them engaging with fashion explicitly as the subject of their work. Collaborating with Belgian designer Véronique Leroy, they formulated a visual vocabulary of slick, predatory figures, shiny surfaces and erotic poses that they set against hyper real backdrops constructed from stock, picture library imagery. The resulting tableaux flew in the face of the prevailing taste for documentary-centered style photography, pre-empting the end of the so-called “grunge” aesthetic and earning Inez and Vinoodh all-important editorial commissions for elite fashion magazines Visionaire and Vogue together with their first advertising contracts for luxury brands Hervé Léger and Vivienne Westwood.
Return to New York
Inez and Vinoodh returned to New York permanently in 1995 to meet ever-increasing demands for them as assignment photographers and they have been prodigious in their output ever since. Working with a team of loyal collaborators comprising the most progressive stylists, art directors, hair and make-up artists, lighting specialists, models and recurring celebrity sitters, their extensive list of editorial contributions includes luxury fashion titles Vogue, Paris Vogue, Vogue Italia, W, Visionaire, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Uomo Vogue, Vogue Hommes International, Vogue Nippon and Vogue China as well as style magazines Purple Fashion, Interview, V, V Man, Self Service, Another, Pop, i-D, Fantastic Man and The Gentlewoman. While Inez and Vinoodh’s imagery runs the stylistic gamut from high glamour to classical portraiture and conceptual tableaux, at its heart is a unique and highly recognizable lexicon of playful pose and extreme gesture. Devised largely in collaboration with the choreographer Stephen Galloway, it is this language that consistently transports their photographs from mere sartorial studies into something transcendent and strange.
Highly sought after as society photographers, Inez and Vinoodh have captured definitive portrait sittings with many of the key figures of film and celebrity. They have photographed four of The New York Times Magazine’s renowned “Great Performers In Film!” portfolios, in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2010, featuring definitive sittings with Clint Eastwood, Mickey Rourke, Bill Murray, Daniel Day-Lewis, Natalie Portman, Colin Firth, Shirley MacLaine, George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Mila Kunis, Michael Douglas, Tom Cruise, Javier Bardem, Viggo Mortensen and Julianne Moore. In 2007 Inez and Vinoodh were guest photographers of the legendary Pirelli calendar. Citing a cast of actresses young and old as their erotic heroines, their black and white close-ups of Sofia Loren, Penélope Cruz, Naomi Watts, Hilary Swank and Lou Doillon, shot in a private bedroom setting, proved to be one of the most intimate and sexually powerful of the calendar’s history.
Perhaps the greatest measure of Inez and Vinoodh’s commercial success and influence are the many advertising campaigns they have photographed for the most prestigious fashion houses such as Yves Saint Laurent, Balmain, Nina Ricci, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Isabel Marant, Giuseppe Zanotti, Lanvin Homme, Miu Miu, Christian Dior Joaillarie, Gucci, Chloé, Givenchy, Calvin Klein, Balenciaga, Yohji Yamamoto, Chanel, Roberto Cavalli, Donna Karan, DKNY, Stella McCartney, Brioni, Moschino, Loewe, Mulberry, Emanuel Ungaro, Louis Vuitton and Helmut Lang. They have also created memorable advertising imagery for fragrance and cosmetics brands Chloé Fragrance, Thierry Mugler Fragrance, Viktor & Rolf Parfum, Chanel Makeup, Lancôme, Narciso Rodriguez, Shiseido, Juicy Couture Fragrance, Gucci Sport Fragrance and Estée Lauder.
Motion image has been part of Inez and Vinoodh’s productivity for over a decade; initially in music video — CD covers for Björk led to their watershed video for her single Hidden Place (2001), created with art directors M/M (Paris) — and increasingly in the burgeoning genre of fashion film. Inez and Vinoodh collaborated with Stefano Pilati and Stephanie Cohen on Your Skin Against My Skin as part of the presentation of the Yves Saint Laurent Homme autumn/winter ’09–’10 collection. Their Girls On Film short, rendered using cutting edge Red camera technology, was commissioned to launch Paris Vogue’s iPad application in autumn 2010.
Since their breakthrough digital work of the early 1990s, Inez and Vinoodh have maintained a prolific art career, staging solo shows every two or three years. The Forest (1995), an unsettling series in which the features of men were grafted onto women’s bodies, posing questions about gender, toured to four international venues, while The Widow’s 1997 tour concluded at the prominent Matthew Marks Gallery in New York and signified the beginning of the photographers’ relationship with the gallery. A solo show of portraits of Inez and projections of herself onto those closest to her, ME (1999), was produced in the same year that an additional body of work on identity and loss was initiated. The Me Kissing Vinoodh series (1999–2010) has come to be one of Inez and Vinoodh’s most recognized projects and demonstrates how elements of their artwork find their way into commercial projects and back again. The first image from the sequence, Me Kissing Vinoodh (Lovingly) (1999), depicts the pair locked in an embrace, contrasting with its partner piece, Me Kissing Vinoodh (Passionately) (1999), which shows Vinoodh digitally erased from the composition, leaving Inez’s profile etched away in the areas where the two previous overlapped. This latter image was used as the emblem poster image for the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Bitstreams exhibition in 2001, and in 2005 the national mail service in the Netherlands made it into a limited edition European postage stamp. An additional version of the series showed a naked Inez covered in red paint, as if flayed, in contrast with the clothed Vinoodh. Originally featuring in the spring/summer 2010 advertising campaign Inez and Vinoodh created for Lanvin Homme, the image was screen printed in collaboration with the renowned printer Eugene Licht and titled Me Kissing Vinoodh (Eternally) (2010) to act as the final part of the trilogy.
2003 marked the launch of the first in a trilogy of ambitious solo exhibitions Inez and Vinoodh staged at Matthew Marks in New York, The Now People, which became more radical and experimental in format as they progressed. The first, Part I: Paradise (2003), consisted of three large-scale black and white portraits that alluded to a contemporary Garden of Eden, while the 13 works that made up Part II: Life on Earth (2005) investigated political spiritualism. This show saw Inez and Vinoodh carrying motifs from their commercial imagery into their artwork, both in a vast frieze of images created in collaboration with M/M (Paris) and in the inclusion of several photosculptures drawn from their ongoing collaboration with Inez’s uncle, the esteemed sculptor Eugene van Lamsweerde. This repurposing of existing photographic imagery — whether through graphic innovations such as the 26 letters cut from model portraits to make up the silkscreen poster series created with M/M (Paris), The Alphabet (2001), or by electing to exhibit their imagery in pop cultural forms such as stickers or T-shirts — has become a recurrent strategy in the exhibition presentation of Inez and Vinoodh’s work over the past decade. The third installment of The Now People, Part III: The Women (2008), at the Andreas Grimm Gallery, Munich, focused on female archetypes. This show featured an installation entitled The Séance; a collection of silk-screened photographs pierced by metal as if to make thoughts, energies and emotions physical and tangible.
Recently, the many strands of Inez and Vinoodh’s career have been drawn together in a series of major retrospective outcomes that celebrate their 25 years’ outstanding work. In 2010, Pretty Much Everything: Photographs 1985–2010, a grand exhibition of 300 works, was staged at FOAM Fotografiemuseum in Amsterdam. The show began its international tour in summer 2011 at the Bienal Pavilion in São Paulo, Brazil. Autumn 2011 marks the launch of Inez and Vinoodh’s much-anticipated monograph, Pretty Much Everything. Designed in collaboration with M/M (Paris), it is published by Taschen in 2 volumes, each containing 333 imaasdasdge pages and a pocket book size reader featuring essays and fiction by Michael Bracewell, Antony Hegarty, Penny Martin, Glenn O'Brien, Bruce Sterling and Olivier Zham, and with lyrics by Björk and Lady Gaga. The limited edition book represents the definitive survey of Inez and Vinoodh’s vast body of work and illustrates their continuing influence on the spheres of art and consumer culture.