2024 Master of Photography: Valérie Belin

Wednesday 15 May - Sunday 19 May 2024
Embankment East Gallery

‘Carol’, 2016, From the series All Star, Copyright Valérie Belin, Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadia Paris/Brussels 


Photo London’s Master of Photography for 2024 is one of France’s most popular and acclaimed photographers, Valérie Belin.

Throughout her career, Belin has explored the tension between the superficial appearance of things and their true nature. Often using the human body as a vessel for abstraction and projected meaning, she has photographed live models and mannequins, masks and card sharks, dancers and bodybuilders, questioning the construction and fetishization of mainstream beauty ideals and enduring gender constructs.

Her work has gained global recognition, with solo exhibitions held at prestigious institutions such as the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA; and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; amongst others. She has been recognised for her contributions to the field of photography with numerous awards including the Paris Photo prize in 1997, the CCF (HSBC) Foundation for Photography Prize in 2000, and the Prix Pictet in 2015. In 2022, she was appointed Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres. 


‘Still Life with mirror’, 2014, From the series Still Life, Copyright Valérie Belin, Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadia Paris/Brussels 


When asked about the accolade Valerie Belin said  “I am deeply honoured to have been chosen to showcase my work as the 2024 Master of Photography. For me, this award represents the recognition of 30 years’ work and will be an opportunity to show the London public the vitality of contemporary photography by women.”

A selection of her works will be shown at the ninth edition of Photo London and take over the Embankment East Side Gallery at Somerset House. ‘Silent Stories’ presents three decades of Belin’s works, reflecting an iconography that is deliberately silent through images that — in the words of their creator ”are neither narrative nor documentary and tell no particular stories, but are designed to be seen as the mirror of fictions without words.” 

Speaking about Valerie Belin receiving the award, Photo London Founders Michael Benson and Fariba Farshad say: ‘The work of the acclaimed French photographer Valérie Belin is intriguingly positioned at the intersection of art and photography. Over the course of her career her image making has  attracted significant international recognition. She is represented  in many important private and public collections around the world.  In 2015 she became the first woman to win the Prix Pictet. Her winning series ‘Still Life’ typifies her approach featuring arrangements of cheap consumer items in elaborate compositions that echo classical vanitas and memento mori paintings. At this point in our own development Valérie’s brilliant playful mix of art and photography makes her the ideal Master of Photography.’

Galatée (série Lady Stardust), 2023, Copyright Valérie Belin, Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadia Paris/Bruxelles 


The Photo London Master of Photography is presented every year to a living artist who has made an exceptional contribution to photography. The previous recipients are: Sebastiao Salgado (2015), Don McCullin (2106), Taryn Simon (2017) Edward Burtynsky (2018), Stephen Shore (2019), Shirin Neshat (2021) Nick Knight (2022) and Martin Parr (2023).

The French focus continues with the group show ‘The Magic Art of French Calotype. Paper Negative Photography 1846 – 1860’, curated by Robert Hershkowitz on the opposite wing on Somerset House’s Embankment side, alongside the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation which celebrates the 25th anniversary of its collection with the exhibition ‘See/Change — Art Collection Deutsche Börse @25’ curated by Anne-Marie Beckmann and Renée Mussai. This exhibition will showcase current artistic positions and recent acquisitions centred around the theme of human condition.