Zoom Magazine Cover by Agnes Donnadieu
Rosanna Checchi, Feature Writer
Zoom International magazine, March/April 2003
Cover and Article, pages 2-7.
In Romance languages, photography is an art form of feminine gender. In my view, irrespective of whether it is pursued by a man or woman, it requires the insight and sensitivity that normally belongs to the feminine hemisphere in each human being. Someone, much more authoritative than I, has compared photography to the art of Zen, suggesting the need for feminine sensibility. It is a cultural, but also a physical question. I once read that a woman¹s nose, if properly trained, becomes incredibly sensitive, above all in the presence of certain odors linked with basic biological functions: copulating, child-rearing, the search for food. Biologists have understood this for some time and ten years ago a number of experiments showed that women have a higher sensitivity towards the steroid androsterone found in large quantities in the underarm secretions of men.
Photography is a question of scent, the "art of intuition".
In her artistic inquiry, Agnes Donnadieu goes beyond a normal vision of reality and her images are intriguing and provocative. Commercial photographs often show us stupendous faces and bodies that portray a world in which the ugly and mediocre do not exist and where settings play an extremely important role.
One of the elements that best characterizes Agnes¹style is her control over light that she exploits to impart full power to her images and subjects. Agnes Donnadieu¹s work has been called sexy, glamorous, erotic and fascinating. Her style is considered "European", but she has spent the last 9 years working in Chicago. Her images are works that reveal the influence of other artistic forms. Digital technology has given Agnes the freedom to express emotions and create settings in ways that would not have been possible with traditional techniques. Yet Donnadieu¹s style has its roots in her early experiences with photojournalism and the years she spent with her family in Paris. When still a girl, she followed her father and brother, French actor Pierre Bernard Donnadieu, as they first emigrated to Algeria and then to Montreal.
Towards the end of the 1970s, she received a job offer in Mexico City where she stayed for seven years working as a photojournalist for Novedades, the weekly supplement to a major national newspaper, and as a photography instructor at the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico.
Years have passed since then and Agnes has had other experiences, including as a film director, one that allows her to coordinate both print and video campaigns for her clients.
'WE WEREN'T LOOKING FOR THE TYPICAL PRODUCT SHOT, " EXPLAIN
LANDSMAN FROM LANDSMAN STROTHER ADVERTISING. 'AGNES HAS A CERTAIN
STYLE TO HER WORK.
IT'S CLOSE TO ART."
The work of
photographer AGNES DONNADIEU has been called brooding and sexy,
edgy and glamorous, erotic and slick. It's also been called "European."
What nobody has ever called it is "Midwestern," though Donnadieu
has lived and worked in Chicago for the last 9 years.
photos tend to be dark and shadowy. Her images of people appear
unposed, yet the composition is graphic, candid, without being
contrived. The dramatic look of her photos is due in part to her
direct lighting technique.
She almost always shoots with a Bronica
ETR-S 2 ¼ camera. So far, no one's managed to pingeonhole her
style. So her work is filed away in the minds of art directors
and creative directors across the city, who wait to connect it
with the right job.
One of the
right jobs came along 8 years ago when she got a call from Rudy
Magnani, president and creative director of Magnani & Associates
Advertising, Inc., with an assignment that has brought Donnadieu
When Magnani was looking for a photographer
for an annual brochure for Schwinn Bicycle's Paramount line
of racing accessories, he called her in."It's a high-end product,"
"We were trying to give it high-end positioning
and attitude. It didn't have to be a literal presentation of
the sport. We felt that her photography really carried the design,"
His agency submitted the brochure to Photo/Design,
and it won a Merit award in the Magazine's March contest issue.
style of fashion and portraiture is a departure from the photojournalism
that provided her entry into photography.
Born in Paris, she
emigrated with her father and brother (the renowned French actor
Pierre Bernard Donnadieu,) from Algeria to Montreal when she
was a child.
In the late Seventies, she moved to Mexico City
and spent seven years as a photojournalist for Novedades, the
weekend supplement of a national newspaper, and teacher of photography
at the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico.
Her globe-trotting assignments
brought her to Chicago, where she graduated from Columbia College
with a degree in film and video, and briefly taught lighting
and camera work at the school.
DONNADIEU does both still and TV work for the same client.
Landsman, executive vice president and creative director at
Landsman Strother Advertising, Inc., hired her to do a commercial
for Corona beer, and then a brochure for Zax, a leather company
which sells to interior designers.
In the past, Zax has issued
plain, simple brochures; this time, Landsman created a piece
titled "Naked For The Nineties" (a play on "naked leather,"
the industry term for expensive, supple leather that hasn't
been pigmented). The sales brochure would feature nude models-torso
shots, with leather draped across their bodies.
looking for, obviously, the typical product shot," explains
Landsman. "Agnes has a certain style to her work. It's close
to art. I thought she could give the project definite style
Excerpt from Photo District News, Midwestern Edition, Volume
XI, Issue XII
The work of Agnes Donnadieu is dark and provocative, yet light
and full of vigor and movement. Agnes' photographic style is more
of an artist, and less of a photographer as she implements several
artistic elements in her images, which could be compared to those found within paintings and sculptures.
The direct-lighting found within Agnes' work is one of the major elements,
which lends itself to this artistic and painterly style of work.
Along with traditional photography, Agnes' work in the digital medium has allowed her the freedom to
express herself in ways which would not be possible with traditional film printing techniques. Our staff
at Profotos especially enjoyed the images within Agnes' digital portfolio, as they allowed her the
complete expressive freedom which is so evidently displayed within her images.
We invite you to browse the portfolio of one of the world's premier photographers in this area of the
field. Agnes Donnadieu has a style which cannot be emulated by anyone else, and this is what sets
her apart from the crowd. Many photographers can produce excellent work for their portfolios, but very
few produce the type of images which cannot be copied by other photographers! Agnes is definitely
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