A look back at the 15 most powerful portraits of women published in the Wombat artists' boxes (From 20 to 30 May 2022, use the promo code INSPIRINGWOMEN and get a 20% discount on our website).
# Portrait 1 - Metropole café, New York, Lisette Model, 1946 (Numbered edition of 350 copies - Wombat Artist Box 9 - Jeu de Paume 10th anniversary special edition)
In this photograph of Lisette Model it is the inspirational side of the woman that stands out.
Dancers, drag queens, trapeze artists – show business and its colorful characters are everywhere in the work of Lisette Model who, before becoming a photographer, envisioned a career as a singer. She is particularly alive to the world of jazz music, because “that was America.” 1 Clubs like the Metropole Café are immortalized in her work, as are several editions of the New York Jazz Festival.
Lisette Model, after years earning a living by publishing in illustrated magazines, became a teacher and encouraged her students (including Diane Arbus) to « photograph with your guts » .
That’s why her pictures – uncompromising yet full of humanity – place her in a unique and highly important position within the genre of street photography.
# Portrait 2 - Miss N, Gertrude Käsebier, 1903 (Numbered edition of 500 copies - Wombat Artist Box 32 - Special edition in tribute to the art magazine Camera Work).
“Miss N.” was part of the work published in the first edition of Camera Work, and testifies to the popularity of the journal with its 650 subscribers. Indeed, this voluptuous young woman is none other than the celebrated Evelyn Nesbit (1884-1967), a Broadway dancer whose beauty had earned her the devoted attention of many men and artists. In 1906, Nesbit was also at the centre of a crime of passion that delighted the newspapers, when her husband killed her lover, an architect of some repute.
This print reveals the talents of Käsebier as a portraitist. She cleverly captures the delicate movement of her subject, both natural and posed, her long curling ringlets, sensual attitude and direct gaze. The young woman appears relaxed, aware of her beauty, terribly feminine and yet still touched with innocence. Käsebier was interested in the status of women in society, and considered pho-tography to be a potential engine for women’s social emancipation.
#Portrait 3 - Grozny, Tchétchénie, Stanley Greene, 2001 (Wombat Artist Box 31 - Numbered edition of 750 copies).
Since the death of her daughter, a year and a half earlier during the conflict in Chechnya, Zélina has lost her will to live. “I feel like I’m already dead,” she tells Stanley Green as he takes her portrait behind the fogged-up window of a bus.
# Portrait 4 - Victoria and the Dragons, Tom Johnson, 2016 (Wombat Artist Box 24 - Numbered edition of 750 copies).
Several of Tom's series, developed with the stylist Charlotte James, combine high fashion and documentary. "Our approach always starts with the subject, whom we meet and build a project around him. Fashion allows me to create imagery but it doesn't take over. We blur the genres. After featuring the inhabitants of her hometown, a former Welsh mining town, Charlotte went in search of Victoria Perkins, who was discovered via an article in a local newspaper. A 12-year-old kick-boxing champion nicknamed "Tigger", she is pictured in the Western Dragons Martial Arts Club run by her parents in Swansea, Wales.
# Portrait 5 - Untitled, série Overgrow, Maisie Cousins, 2015 (Wombat Artist Box 21 - Numbered edition of 750 copies).
Nature - cute, naive and inoffensive - inexorably encroaches upon a face, skin shining with sweat. Maisie’s highly textured photographs engender conflicting emotions, emerging from a disturbing prettiness that verges on repugnant. By bringing together girly aspects with more prosaic, raw details, they question “misogynistic ideals of beauty.”
# Portrait 6 - Ruby, Alessandra Sanguinetti (Wombat Artist Box 28- Numbered edition of 700 copies).
“Children are fascinating... As a society, we project so much of our hopes, frustrations, denials, and aspirations on children, and they are so transparent in how they re ect everything that is thrust upon them. How could I not pho- tograph them?”. Ruby is part of a project entitled Sorry, Welcome, a book about family life.
# Portrait 7 - Beth Ditto, Mathieu César, 2012 (Wombat Artist Box 2 - Numbered edition of 700 copies).
Beth Ditto refuses the dictates of society.
The choices of this diva express her daily commitment, her relentless militancy against social prejudices: for example, she asserts her plump femininity by posing nude in various magazines in order to decompress overweight teenagers, a word she rejects precisely because it implies the existence of a standard weight. In 2009, she turned down a lucrative contract with the Gap, which "doesn't make clothes in her size", and created her own line for Evans. Beth Ditto is making her life a manifesto.
# Portrait 8 - Marilyn Monroe, Philippe Halsman, 1959 (Wombat Artist Box 19 - 15x21cm print from a portfolio of 10 images).
Phillipe Halsman attempts to bring the personality of the actress Marilyn Monroe to the fore. His aim is to go beyond the clichés of the young woman by giving her the freedom to be herself at the time of the photograph.
"However, he manages to create a more natural portrait of the actress by asking her to jump in the air. The image is unique because, when Halsman explained the concept of jumpology to her, Marilyn Monroe, afraid of revealing her personality, refused to repeat the experience."
Credit : Wombat Artist Box 19 Philippe Halsman. Philippe Halsman - Marilyn Monroe, 1959 Musée de l’Elysée © 2015 Philippe Halsman Archive / Magnum Photos.
# Portrait 9 - Untitled Chieska, Davinson, 2018 (Wombat Artist Box 36-Numbered edition of 700 copies)
When he snapped the candid shot, Davison explains that he hadn’t noticed the holes in his friend’s polka-dot dress. “I didn’t notice until we were outside, and they instantly became a pair of eyes” – giving the shot a strange quality that was also appreciated by his model
# Portrait 10 - Lorna, Islande, Betina du Toit, 2018 (Wombat Artist Box 39 -Numbered edition of 700 copies)
This print, entitled “Lorna” after the name of its subject, was taken in Iceland in November, 2018. After a visit to the country in 2014, Betina was haunted by a vision of a shot in the ethereal blue waters of the Icelandic lagoon. So, a few years later, she returned in order to make it a reality.
# Portrait 11 - La fille dans l'eau, Zhong Lin, (Wombat Artist Box 44 - Print from the portfolio)
Bathing implies silence and calm, but also drowning. Oxygen bubbles are the only thing keeping the model alive. These delicate air pockets give the photograph its vitality, and provide protection and connection between the viewer and the distant, almost detached model. With her red lips and diaphanous skin, the sleeping woman is as sensual as she is grim, just like Zhong Lin’s enigmatic photograph.
# Portrait 12 - Queen of Nowhere I, Kourtney Roy, (Wombat Artist Box 46 -Print from the portfolio)
Dreams are one step away from reality, and hell is one step away from heaven: Kourtney Roy introduces weirdness into familiar landscapes and melancholy into colourful compositions. Her fantastical imprint has attracted fashion magazines, major newspapers and art editions such as Louis Vuitton's Fashion Eye collection; Swiss, Russian and Australian photography festivals. The award-winning Canadian artist explores the boundaries between the tasteless and the unusual, elegance and vulgarity, femininity and monstrosity.
# Portrait 13 - Sans titre, Elizaveta Porodina, 2021, (Wombat Artist Box 42 -Print from the portfolio)
It is through her photography that Porodina explores her mysterious inner self and the unbridgeable distance that seperates her from her fellow human beings. To find herself in another dimension, where there is room to connect, or disconnect, and to symbolically surpass the normality of life.
# Portrait 14 - Amber, Ransom Ashley, (Wombat Artist Box 34-Print from the portfolio)
The portrait of Amber gives off the fresh quality of a just-discovered sensuality. Her intense yet serene gaze avoids the viewer, while her delicate features and imperfect complexion invite us to an act of the imagination. The artist reports that he met Amber while at Parsons, The New School for Design. “She was a friend studying music at the school and was a vibrant presence in my life at that time. I remember conceiving of a beauty shot that was unretouched and that, ironic for a beauty shot, showcased the complexities, nuances, and even imperfections of the natural face.”
# Portrait 15 - Collection Alan Rotshild, The Velvet Undergound, 1967, (Wombat Artist Box 22 - Poster)
In 2009, reporting in Chicago on the Barack Obama's early years, Allan stumbles onto a tiny bookshop and for 10 dollars purchases a flyer that announces a Velvet Underground concert at the Massachusetts venue, the Boston Tea Party, 11-12 August, 1967. For those two days, the group was accompanied on stage by the whole Factory gang, filmed by their manager, Andy Warhol.