Sabine Weiss, star of La Serenissima


Self-Portrait, 1953 Sabina Weiss

In the world of international photography, she is at the forefront. Sabine Weiss, who passed away last year, is in the spotlight at the Casa dei Tre Oci in Venice, which is dedicating a very nice retrospective to her with more than 200 photos. Here are six, commented by our journalist Ghania Adamo.

This content was published on August 12, 2022 – 11:45 am

Ghana Adamo, Venice

Humanist! It’s a label all the commentators put on her, but she, Sabine Weiss, dismisses it and erases it with one line in her very calm voice: “I don’t like being categorized, I’m a complete photographer “. She knows she’s right, but still apologizes: “What I’m telling you here is not very modest,” she says, smiling to her interlocutor. We hear him in one of the three documentaries dedicated to the Swiss artist dedicated exhibition, happy to.This very nice Venetian retrospective entitled “Sabine Weiss. The Poetry of the Moment” can be seen until October 23rd.

Sabine Weiss, born in 1924 in the canton of Valais and who died in Paris in 2021, where she lived, is really that “complete” photographer. Your destination covers very different horizons, from Europe to Asia to America; observes all ages, from infancy to old age; and ventures into the different strata of society: poor or rich, anonymous or famous, writer or artist, including himself. This is evidenced by the 200 photographs housed in the Casa dei Tre Oci, a magnificent building from the beginning of the 20th century , on the Giudecca Island opposite Venice and its majestic Doge’s Palace. Our photo selection:


Venice, Italy, 1950 Sabina Weiss

A five-minute vaporetto crossing from St. Mark’s Square to Giudeca. The visitor who thinks he has left the Doge’s Palace behind finds it as soon as he has passed through the doors of the exhibition. The majestic colonnade of the mythical palace is put into perspective in this photo from 1950. A chiaroscuro that seems to have fallen out of time. In the row of columns, Sabine Weiss stands in profile, her head turned towards a hidden camera. His shadow on the ground. Venice at his feet. A moment of poetry and there she is, the star of La Sérénissime. Did she know then that her fame would bring her back to Venice after her death?


Artist Alberto Giacometti, Paris, France, 1955 Sabina Weiss

The Alchemist, one could say here by Alberto Giacometti, photographed by Sabine Weiss in 1955. The author of The Walking Man froze. His gaze is on the camera, but his mind is elsewhere. In his studio, which looks like a crowded underground laboratory, he seems to be asking himself: How do you bring order to your ideas and artistic compositions? Deep down he may admit that talent is a secret affair, an alchemy that no formula can explain.


The Running Man, (Hugh). Paris, France, 1953 Sabina Weiss

“The Running Man” is here Hugh, husband of Sabine Weiss; it is she who specifies it. But viewed from behind, he can be mistaken for any human hurrying through the evening fog. A mysterious atmosphere hovers over this recording from 1953, the year of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”. There was then an intellectual complicity between artists and writers living in Paris. Beckett’s characters hoped for a supernatural being who would relieve them of the burden of their worries. Has Sabine Weiss thought about it? Who is the “man” behind?


New York, United States, 1955 Sabina Weiss

1950s New York: Less intimate than the previous ones, this photo draws the reflection into public space. Ironically, she stops at an image that caricatures the religious activism practiced on the streets. A comic-book poster recommends salvation of the soul, with the American flag waving just behind. Patriotism and faith, same fight, still in force in the United States.


Sunday Dance, Nazaré, Portugal, 1954 Sabina Weiss

lightness and joy. They qualify the Latin countries in general. In Portugal, in the coastal town of Nazaré, a ball is thrown in a clearing. It’s Sunday, according to the exhibition cartel. The atmosphere has evaporated. Two women have fun dancing, the men stare at them with satisfaction, some with lust. The children, whom Sabine Weiss greatly appreciated in her work, bring their sacred part to the Sunday festival.


Yves Saint-Laurent, first collection for Dior, for Life Magazine, 1958 Sabina Weiss

Another party in a different style, this one a lot less popular. Sabine Weiss has collaborated with famous celebrity magazines, including life for whom she took this photo. The year is 1958. That was when Yves Saint-Laurent signed his first collection for Christian Dior. Luxury and opulence! A king among irresistible princesses. In a word, a yard! That of haute couture.

According to JTI standards

According to JTI standards

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