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Scarlet Muse — Prostitution and Photography
Photograph by Larry ClarkCourtesy Daniel Cooney Fine Art

Looking at photography’s fascination with prostitution

Erotic, personal and revolutionary – the Daniel Cooney Fine art gallery presents Scarlet Muse

Highlighting intimacy, secrecy and raw emotions, the Daniel Cooney Fine Art gallery is exhibiting the relationship between photographers and prostitution. Titled Scarlet Muse, the exhibition takes a journey from the 19th century to present time, proving prostitution is a pivotal point of inspiration, especially for the 20 photographers included in the exhibition.

The photographs are a portal into their intimate activities and honest personal connections. Rocking back and forth between everyday struggles to being liberated in their own skin, the photographers capture the unapologetic spirit of carnal human behaviour.

Depicting herself as a muse in a Caravaggio painting, Braquehais (c.1850s) captures a young woman with pearl white leggings and scarlet red cheeks teasing her shoulders. Shifting into the 20th century, the accounts of New Orleans’ infamous red light district prostitutes are documented through E.J. Bellocq photographs. Bellocq’s images avert from the male gaze and dive into the real lives of the women of Storyville.

Coming into an age of empowerment, Atget and Brassai photograph the ladies of the Parisian night in their full thrill. Capturing the transsexual community at Place Blanche, Swedish photographer Christer Stromholm tells the stories of freedom and fear. 

Swapping roles, former sex worker, Benjamin Fredrickson, self-documents his own relations, both at work and home. The gay Helmut Newton, Danny Fields’ intimate shots of “Richies” is an homage to the young boys of Greenwich Village. Recording gay life in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Anthony Friedkin delivers a voice for the gay community. Compiling a contemporary perspective, Scarlet Muse features work from George Awde, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Jane Hilton and Malerie Marder.

Scarlet Muse Photography and Prostitution exhibits at the Daniel Cooney Fine Art gallery in, New York, from June 9th to July 22nd