Thursday, January 20, 2011

Venus with a Snake 7: Nastassja Kinski and the Serpent et al.

Nastassja Kinski and the Serpent (1981) by Richard Avedon

On June 14th 1981 veteran photographer Richard Avedon (1923-2004) took the then 19 (or 20, depending on your source) year old actress Nastassja Kinski into the studio and draped a large python around her lithe form to create one of the most iconic (and copied) photographs of the twentieth century.

The picture on display before the Christies sale

The picture was reproduced as a best-selling poster and a limited edition of 200 signed photographic prints were made the following year.  In 2008 one of these sold at Christies for $74,500.

Other photographers soon realised that the image of a naked girl entwined with a large snake would always get a positive reaction (except from people who suffer from ophidiaphobia, of course).   Several other young women found themselves having to cuddle up to pythons for hugely derivative shots. 

Sonja Kinski by Michel Comte (2003)

Notably, twenty years later, Kinski's daughter Sonja appeared on the cover of the 400th edition of Photo magazine in a picture by Michel Comte.

Sonja Kinski

Sonja also posed for this upright shot.  The yellow snake isn't a different breed it is just an example of an albino python.

Stephanie Seymour by Todd Barry

Earlier, original supermodel Stephanie Seymour had also snuggled up to a serpentine friend in this picture by Todd Barry which also replicates the chunky bracelet.  Incidentally this picture is the source for an internet fake purporting to be Natalie Portman.

Fake Natalie Portman

Someone has photoshopped a face onto this picture and it is widely available on the internet as Portman.  Clearly, however, the snake, bracelet, body and hair are from the original Barry picture with a face added.

Nadja Auermann

On the basis that nothing succeeds like excess here is German model Nadja Auermann positively enveloped in pythons.

Next we have model Devon Aoki photographed by Anthony Mandler who is now more famous for being a prolific director of pop videos.  Devon is the daughter of Rocky Aoki who was the founder of the Benihana restaurant chain as well as the mens' magazine Genesis.

My favourite interpretation has to be this final one in Lego.  Brilliant!  More girls with snakes another time.

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