PRESS RELEASE: Valerie Belin

Released October 05, 2009



Valérie Belin: Made Up on view October 17, 2009 - April 4, 2010


Is a portrait still a portrait if the sitter is not real?

This October, the Peabody Essex Museum presents French photographer Valérie Belin’s first one-person show in the United States. Belin is an artist as famous for the unsettling qualities of her floor-to-ceiling photographs as she is for her provocative subjects. Among Belin’s most recent shows was a joint exhibition with Édouard Manet at the legendary Musée d’Orsay in Paris. Her 2007 mid-career retrospective was received with enormous popular and critical praise across Europe — she is rapidly becoming a leader in the world of photography. Well-recognized in the past for her portrait series of Michael Jackson impersonators, body builders, lapdogs and showgirls, Belin delves deep into a subject of fascination compelling viewers to probe the sublime quality of even the most familiar things.

Valérie Belin: Made Up presents 20 exquisitely-printed, larger-than-life images exploring a photographer’s ability to manipulate perception of artificiality and reality.  From shimmering black and white portraits of mannequins and models, ballroom dancers and bags of chips, to richly-colored and unexpected still lifes, all have their place in Belin’s studio and in PEM’s galleries. Referencing French philosophical traditions, Belin continually challenges her viewers to consider what is real, what is artificial — and whether knowing the difference matters after all.

Belin’s international stature, impeccable technique and playful subject matter are well-suited to PEM’s ambitions for its new program of fine arts photography under the stewardship of curator, Phillip Prodger. “I want to help the museum come alive for people who love photography. With this new program, we will feature some of the most exciting work being done internationally, and which can be seen nowhere else in the country,” said Prodger.

PRESS PREVIEW | THURSDAY | OCTOBER 15, 2009| 9:30 -11:00 AM
Join us for breakfast, exhibition tour and conversation with Valérie Belin and PEM Curator of Photography, Phillip Prodger.  Please respond to Whitney Riepe, or 978 745 9500 x3228.

* For interviews with Valérie Belin or curator Phillip Prodger, please contact April Swieconek at or 978 745 9500 x3109.
* Press images are available upon request by contacting Whitney Riepe, or 978 745 9500 x3228.

Richard Avedon | The Kennedys -- Portrait of a Family | Spring 2010
Mark Ruwedel: Footsteps | Spring / Summer 2010
Walker Evans/Samuel Chamberlain | TBA 2011
Ansel Adams: At the Water’s Edge | Fall 2011

Untitled, 2007, Valérie Belin, Pigment Print, 157 X 125 cm, Copyright Valérie Belin.

About the Peabody Essex Museum
The Peabody Essex Museum presents art and culture from New England and around the world. The museum's collections are among the finest of their kind, showcasing an unrivaled spectrum of American art and architecture (including four National Historic Landmark buildings) and outstanding Asian, Asian Export, Native American, African, Oceanic, Maritime and Photography collections. In addition to its vast collections, the museum offers a vibrant schedule of changing exhibitions and a hands-on education center. The museum campus features numerous parks, period gardens and 22 historic properties, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old house that is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States.
Open Tuesday-Sunday and holiday Mondays, 10 am-5 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

ADMISSION: Adults $15; seniors $13; students $11. Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang: $5. Members, youth 16 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang.

INFO: Call 866-745-1876 or visit our Web site at
April Swieconek
Public Relations Manager
Phone: 978-745-9500, ext. 3109

Whitney Riepe
Senior Public Relations Associate
Phone: 978-745-9500, ext. 3228

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PR Contacts:

Whitney Van Dyke  -  Director of Communications  -  978-542-1828  -

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