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Hedi Slimane Biography

Photographer and fashion designer Hedi Slimane employs the intensity of black-and-white photography to capture the spirit of youth music culture. From intimate portraits of celebrities and teenagers to images of performers and crowds of fans, Slimane's work transfers the rawness and vibrancy of punk-rock-inflected music culture onto photographs.

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Early photographic work

Hedi Slimane's first photography book, Berlin (2003), developed out of his two-year residency at at the city's KW Institute for Contemporary Art, during which he documented his surroundings and the people he encountered in his characteristic black-and-white photography. Berlin later developed into an installation of digitised photographs projected onto four sides of a large cube, which was shown at KW Institute and MoMA PS1, New York.

Slimane began maintaining an online journal of photographs in 2006, when the diaristic publishing of photographs online was less common. He continues to update his diary on his website.

California

Based in Los Angeles since 2007, Hedi Slimane has used his photography to chart his fascination with California's visual arts and music scenes. California Song, his 2011 solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (MOCA), showcased Slimane's records of young, urban Californians alongside a soundscape produced by local bands. In one photograph, Los Angeles indie musician Ariel Pink stands with his back to a window, resulting in strong shadows that engulf most of his body; another depicts the torso of an anonymous man with a pet snake around his wrist.

That same year, Hedi Slimane curated the group exhibition California Dreamin: Myths and Legends of Los Angeles at Almine Rech Paris. Among the participating artists were John Baldessari, John McCracken, Mike Kelley, Raymond Pettibon, Ed Ruscha, and Sterling Ruby: significant Californian or California-based artists who rose to prominence in the decades between the late 1950s and 1980s.

Music

Punk-rock music and its associated fashion and fan cultures have long been sources of inspiration for the artist. Hedi Slimane's book London Birth of a Cult (2005), for example, documents the life of English musician Pete Doherty as he rose to fame among the British punk-rock scene in the late 1990s. In 2014, Slimane's series 'Sonic' was presented in a solo exhibition of the same name at the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent in Paris. The show spanned 15 years of Slimane's work photographing musicians and included portraits of Lou Reed, Keith Richards, and Amy Winehouse, as well as dynamic scenes of audiences and live performances.

Sun of Sound, Slimane's first solo exhibition since Sonic, was presented at Almine Rech Shanghai in 2021. It featured works from Berlin; London Birth of a Cult; and 'Sonic', among others.

Fashion

Hedi Slimane was formerly the creative director of luxury fashion brands Yves Saint Laurent (2012–2016) and Dior Homme (2000–2007), and in 2018 was appointed as the creative and image director at Celine. As a fashion designer, he is known for his controversial yet revolutionary approach to incorporating rock-chic elements into traditional high fashion to create an aesthetic that is more accessible to younger generations of consumers.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2021

Hedi Slimane
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Almine Rech contemporary art gallery in Brussels, Belgium
Almine Rech London, New York, Shanghai, Paris, Brussels +2
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