Francesco Clemente ‘Model as Muse’
‘Model as Muse’ is a collaborative project created by artist Francesco Clemente and Harpers Bazaar. For the project, super models Christy Turlington, Linda Evangelista, Anne Ewers, Liya Kebede and Iman were painted in magnificent outfits, making both model and fashion designer – namely Versace, Valentino, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana and Salvatore Ferragamo – the subject. The project wasn’t just about the final product though, a painted portrait, but the experience that went with it and the conversations that emerged – both during the sitting and as the models and works were photographed by Jason Schmidt whilst in discussion with Harpers Bazaar.
Whether it was intentional or not, in having models pose for their portrait the Model as Muse project triggered a conversation about beauty and image, the modelling industry and art, self-worth and womanhood. Contrary to what we might first think, a model posing for a portrait, the slow process in which their image is captured, is rather unusual and quite interesting. Many of the women had never sat for a portrait and therefore not been examined in the specific way that a painter does – looking but also choosing what to focus on and how to present it, perhaps with more control than that of a photographer. As Kebede said, “the relationship with a painter is so different… he’s so focused on you, and you’re always wondering, ‘What could he be looking at?’ It’s so penetrating.” Christy Turlington enjoyed the personal experience of being painted too, appreciating the way Clemente’s portrait of her celebrated her “gimpy” eye unlike in a photo session where people try to – as she said – “balance my eyes with light.” Clemente showed “one eye was as it is in life, which I love. I can see a lot of things that are me.”
Credits: Harpers Bazaar
Photography: Jason Schmidt