Laurent Elie Badessi was born in France, and belongs to a family with three generations of photographers. From an early age, this enabled him to explore and appreciate the art of photography.
After studying language and communication sciences at Université des Lettres d’Avignon, Badessi enrolled in a photography course at Université de Paris VIII. Curious about the psychological aspect in the interaction that occurs between a photographer and his sitter during a photo session, he decided to base his M.A. thesis on that subject. To explore this phenomenon further, he used the technique of “La photographie négociée” (The Negotiated Photography) and spent several months in Niger, Africa taking photographs of isolated tribes that had never (or very rarely) been exposed to the medium. For this project titled “ETHNOLOGICAL FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY”
, he received the prominent “Bourse de l’aventure” (The Adventure Grant) among several other grants and awards.
Badessi started his career in Paris and continued working abroad before moving to the United States in the early 1990s.
After spending ten years focusing on the human figure, Badessi’s work SKIN
, which was compiled in a book of the same name, was internationally released in early 2000 by the prestigious Swiss publisher Edition Stemmle. The book contains introduction by Sondra Gilman, Founder and Chairperson of the photography committee at the Whitney Museum.
In 2004, Badessi was approached by the luxury company CHARLES JOURDAN
to produce a series of photographs for their advertising campaign. Because of the emblematic relationship between the medium of photography and this brand, Badessi accepted the project. Like photographer Guy Bourdin, who helped build that relationship thanks to his iconic images, Badessi was also given carte blanche for this commissioned work. To bring his own vision to the brand, he played with eroticism, mythology and symbolism. These photographs are part of the permanent collection of Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.
At the peak of the American war in Iraq, Badessi created AMERICAN DREAM, THIS IS NOT A DREAM (2006)
, a powerful series of portraits based on the propagandist campaigns elaborated by the U.S. army to attract new recruits during the war. In 2011 AMERICAN DREAM, THIS IS NOT A DREAM
was selected for the prestigious “Arte Laguna Prize” and shown at the Venice Arsenale.
and FRAGMENTS (2014)
followed. They study the phenomenon of light, the capture of time and motion in photography. Like the series DREAMING MARILYNS (2012-13)
and AMERICAN DREAM, THIS IS NOT A DREAM
they both explore the notion of “the fragility of life”, an important topic in his work.
Because he was exposed to the medium all of his life, and spent hours in the studio and the darkroom as a child, Badessi is a master printer in traditional printing. Experimenting early on with different techniques like photograms, pinhole cameras and solarisation, explains his deep interest for the laws of physics and the technical aspects that are involved in photography.
Badessi uses symbolism, mythology, and historical and cultural references to create his images. The study of the interaction between him “the photographer” and his subject “the sitter”, and the exploration of the impact of photography on people, are both fundamental vectors in his artistic quest. His work often addresses subtle and relevant questions on social, political, and cultural issues, such as the relationship with nudity, religion, war or the environment.
Badessi’s photographs are part of important private and public collections. He has received several prestigious awards, including a grant from the French Department of Cultural Affairs for his Paris show “Métamorphoses”
. In 2013, his photograph THE TREE OF LOVE (2012)
shot for the Anne Fontaine Foundation was selected as the main image of the exhibition /auction “Trees in Focus” at Sotheby’s New York.
Solo and group shows of his work have taken place around the world in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami, London, Milan, Rome, Paris, Nice, Barcelona, Kuwait City, Beijing, Monaco, and Dubai.
Badessi lives and works in New York City.