Ellen von Unwerth’s classic Revenge (Twin Palms) has been out of print for years. I first reported on it in July 2010 when the publisher informed me that Ellen was in the process of rescanning her negatives for this third edition.
Well it was a long wait but happily the, uh, spanking new, black casebound volume arrived the other day—appropriately devoid of dust jacket.
A former fashion model, Ms. von Unwerth turned the tables and has for years been situated comfortably behind the camera. Her tongue-in-cheek tale of revenge—(complete with text by Harland Miller in the style of Victorian sadomasochistic erotica)—might well have been concocted as payback. After all, fashion models must often perform arduous chores and endure abusive treatment.
The sadistic Baroness in this parable
“…assembled the girls into the radiator room so that they may witness one another’s punishments.”
Of course the photographer gets to have it both ways as she directs her lovely, nude damsels in distress. Fashion, albeit disheveled, is certainly on display in a cinematic romp around a chateau in France.
Helmut Newton, an obvious influence, inspired countless s/m fashion spreads, but von Unwerth has a style all her own. Unlike Newton, these seductive black and white photos rely on visual spontaneity, movement defined by provocative blurs, and a flirtatious wit.
Playful and naughty, Ellen von Unwerth’s Revenge is sweet.
You can order the book on Amazon here.