Correspondances: Belin/Manet, October 8, 2008 – February 2, 2009, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France.
Valérie Belin, Corbeille de fruits [Basket of fruit], 2008 / Edouard Manet, Vase de pivoines sur piédouche [Vase of Peonies on a Pedestal], 1864
Valérie Belin’s justification for the connections between her work – strictly photographic – and that of the painter Edouard Manet, relates to both iconography and style.
More precisely she has chosen Vase de pivoines sur piédouche [Vase of Peonies on a Pedestal], for which she has taken colour photographs of cleverly composed baskets of fruit. The artist thus creates an initial link with Manet’s work through her fondness for presenting still life without any narrative context, opening up the possibilities of the medium, whether painting or photography.
Valérie Belin’s work is like Manet’s “pieces of pure painting” where he renders, intensely and concisely, the essence of “modest” motifs like a basket of strawberries, a lemon, or an asparagus. This similarity can be seen in the photographer’s technique of closing right in on her subject and using a close up frontal view, tight framing, an absence of décor and context, direct light and a print with strong contrast, to produce a distinct and accentuated image that is both spectacular and stark. This minimalism is accompanied in the work shown here by a composition centred on one unifying element – whether a basket or a vase – giving the whole image the density and appearance of a single large object.