Jeanloup Sieff: Black and White Photographs by Jeanloup Sieff

Jeanloup Sieff

Jeanloup Sieff ranks high in our masters of photography tribute. Jeanloup Sieff was one of the most brilliant photographers of the 20th century. Jeanloup Sieff was born in Paris to parents of Polish origin.  His interest in photography was first piqued when he received a Photax plastic camera as a birthday gift for his 14th birthday. Jeanloup Sieff got hooked on photography after photographing newly met girls while vacationing at the Polish winter resort Zakopane. In 1953 he attended the Vaugirard School of Photography in Paris and the Vevey School in Switzerland.

In 1956 Jeanloup Sieff began shooting fashion photography, and in 1958 he joined the Magnum Agency. His work for Magnum allowed him to travel to Italy, Greece, Poland and Turkey. In 1961, he settled in New York where he worked for Esquire, Glamour, Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. He moved to Paris in 1966 where he continued working for many fashion publications. During his lifetime, Jeanloup Sieff photographed many celebrities, among them Jane Birkin, Yves Montand, Alfred Hitchcock, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Yves Saint-Laurent, and Rudolf Nureyev. Dancers and nudes, shot in high-contrast black&white were two recurring themes in his oeuvre.

Jeanloup Sieff's work is unmistakably modern. His images pay tribute to the purity of the human form with all its sculptural qualities. The elegance of his images is combined with a cool sensuality influenced by the "new wave" film-makers of the 1950s. A personal erotic vocabulary in his nudes and fashion photography is evident; long bare backs, delicate curves and lingerie. Jeanloup Sieff's landscapes are almost surreal with rocks and grasses isolated in desolate terrain's, in contrast to his portraits which convey real human warmth.

Image Credits: © The Estate of Jeanloup Sieff, Paris