Photography of David Seidner


Currently running through 1 February 2009, the Fondation Pierre Bergé–Yves Saint-Laurent in Paris is hosting an exhibition of the photography of David Seidner (1957–99).

Born in Los Angeles, Seidner combined a free-thinking California character with the Old World esthetic life he discovered in Paris at age 19, and developed into an original photographer. Rarely has a modern-minded photographer, whose work appeared regularly in the pages of fashion magazines and who poured out a steady stream of books and advertising images for clients like Revlon and Yves Saint Laurent, soared so freely while having one foot planted in the clay of the Greeks. He’s been invariably described as a kind of head-to-toe esthete, someone who quoted philosophers, collected Jean-Michel Frank furniture and wore vintage Gucci loafers, typically with skinny moleskin trousers.

Seidner’s photographs are cool, detached, lending to each image something I find unnerving. Others describe various kinds of passion in the imagery, but I don’t see that. I see an outsider, almost a Leonard Zelig with a camera, who can assimilate perfectly any photographic style and yet remains apart.

Seidner died of AIDS, and in his work I see a conflation of Susan Sontag’s writings both on photography and on “illness as metaphor.” It’s unfair to reduce him to such a simplistic critique, I know, and yet I keep coming back to it. I’m grasping at straws, really, trying to understand what I see. Long before he grew ill, he regarded the human body with a clinical curiosity. And until the end of his life, the human body — draped in couture or naked, full-length or bust — was his constant subject.



Fondation Pierre Bergé–Yves Saint-Laurent
5 Avenue Marceau
75116 Paris

Picture Credits: Self Portrait, David Seidner
David Seidner: Tina Chow, 1981 [
special thanks PaulPincus]



~ by eaesthete on 12/30/08.

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