Master of Photography

Valérie Belin, Still Life with mirror, 2014. Copyright: Valérie Belin. Courtesy of 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.

Valérie Belin (b. 1964) investigates the tension between the superficial appearance of things and their true nature, between reality and artificiality. 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.

On receiving the accolade, Belin stated: “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 Photo London audience the vitality of contemporary photography by women.” 

Fair Founders Michael Benson and Fariba Farshad comment: “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.” 

‘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.” 

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 (2016), Taryn Simon (2017) Edward Burtynsky (2018), Stephen Shore (2019), Shirin Neshat (2021), Nick Knight (2022) and Martin Parr (2023).