The 2017 Pirelli Calendar Is All About Real Beauty Without Retouching

The 2017 edition of the Pirelli Calendar has finally been revealed in Paris, and in the words of Al Green, it is simply beautiful. Shot by German Photographer Peter Lindbergh, it features actresses Robin Wright, Nicole Kidman, Uma Thurman, and Lupita Nyong’o amongst others. It has been titled “Emotional.” Expect to see nakedness in a different way, because the calendar of this year was all about “stripping down to the very soul of the sitters” without shedding all their clothes.

For the past 50 years, the Pirelli Calendar has been known for its striking images of inspirational women photographed in different stages of undress. After Annie Leibovitz, Peter Lindbergh has also chosen to ditch nudes for something more powerful for his third stint. In a press release, he stated his aim was “not [to] shoot a calendar about perfect bodies, but to capture sensitivity and emotion, laying bare the souls of the women in the images, rendering them more naked than a nude.” Thus, it is the reason why this year’s creation for the Pirelli Calendar was titled “Emotional.”

I have been a big fan of Peter Lindbergh for a long time now, and recently, I purchased his book, “A Different Vision on Fashion Photography.” Throughout the 400 images of the book, I was always amazed by the raw beauty of the people he photographed. Flaws were never an issue: Lindbergh never seems to want to hide them. It is the same here with the 2017 Pirelli Calendar, and he takes it even further: “As an artist, I feel I have a responsibility to free women from the idea of eternal youth and perfection. Society's ideal of perfection is impossible to achieve.”

All the women in the 2017 Pirelli Calendar have been shot au naturel without any face or body retouching. In his own words, Lindbergh wanted it to be “a cry against the terror of perfection and youth,” which is why he chose women who have played an important role in his life but who have also appeared in high fashion and beauty advertisements. While everyone knows very well that the faces they see in glossy magazines or on billboards are retouched, the extent of the retouching is unknown to them, and it is why it is so poignant to see those female figures how they normally look.

And indeed, the real woman from the movie stars to the professor at a university in Moscow appear in the Pirelli Calendar, laying bare their wrinkles, dimples, and blemishes in front of the lens. It is maybe sad that unlike last year with Amy Schumer, there are no plus-size subjects, but it does not damper the work done by Lindbergh. The 2017 Pirelli Calendar features some forty images shot both in studio and outdoors and all in black and white.

Some may say it seems pretty straightforward to shoot those images and that perhaps there is not really anything special about shooting women this way. I’d like to say that Lindbergh’s work is striking in the fact that the photographer gets his subjects to trust him completely. And bonding with your photographer when baring your face without makeup and agreeing to no retouching is key. Getting a model to trust a photographer and letting go in front of a camera is no easy feat. What do you think?

Follow Peter Lindbergh on his Instagram.

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14 Comments

Daniel Schenkelberg's picture

Pirelli as in the tire company? lol

Yes the tire company. The pirelli calender has been around for decades. It has traditionally featured nude or near nude models photographed by top photographers at the time. I don't believe they sell them to the publice and they are released in very small numbers. It is only recently that they have begun to move away from the traditional style.

Khatleen Minerve's picture

They are usually given to selected customers and famous people from what I know.

Daniel Schenkelberg's picture

Interesting, because it has nothing to do with motorsports. Not even the athletes so I was just wondering.

Anonymous's picture

Color me ignorant but I don't feel like photos of women without makeup is anything new. Releasing an untouched portrait intended to celebrate natural beauty might as well be a dedicate genre. These photos are gorgeous, yes, but the 'cry against the terror of perfection and youth' had been driven to cliche long before now (in fact I'd say that make-up-free Instagram photos are more effective in communicating the message than these photos are). I just ingested my afternoon caffeine so you'll understand my heavily-worded opinion. The way I see it, especially after reading dozens of articles that cite photography as a dying profession, to focus on Mr. Lindbergh's over-trodden, trite message would be to completely overlook the most marvelous accomplishment with this series that he himself has missed: using only his camera with no significant post processing, Lindbergh has effectively proven that the romance of photography is not dead. In a world full of sub-par celebrity photographers and self-proclaimed professionals, these photos give us the assurance that there is and always will be a wonderful and dare-I-say immaculate art within photography.

Essay finished.

Anonymous's picture

Based entirely on the presented photos and not due to the lack of post processing, I just don't think they're much to look at and definitely not gorgeous. In either case, they clearly list make-up artists for each so they're not completely au-naturel. Maybe famous people, aside from Nicole and Lupita, need more help than the women I know who look great as-is.

Gypsy Frank's picture

Just addressing the no makeup/post part of your comment: No that isn't a new thing in general for photography, but it IS a very new thing for Pirelli calendar which typically is shot in a glitzy, high fashion manner. All of the previous photographers they have been chosen throughout the years don't shoot the calendar in the way that Mr. Lindbergh has done it for this year's edition (or even the way Annie Leibovitz shot it last year). The typical playbook for the calendar is White/European female models, makeup, lavish location/studio setup & nudity. If you want to see how they traditionally shoot the calendar you can view this BTS from when Karl Lagerfeld photographed it in 2011 (Be Advised - Nude Scenes NSFW):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cf7BWvQ6xYI - The Making of the 2011 Pirelli Calendar

Christos Dikos's picture

Gag me with a PC spoon.

Everyone knows B/W is more forgiving.

Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

You're right but here I feel like they treated the pictures to highlight the skin imperfection. I always don't understand why they do these things, I mean they go from remove any imperfections to add imperfections that aren't visible. It's like when, to fight the increasing use of models that suffer from anorexia they use fat models, I mean, there's a world in between.

Scott Weaver's picture

I dislike every image in this calendar. There's no reason not to employ good lighting, especially if the models will not wear makeup. It's this very famous photographer's lighting of these images that I most object to, along with framing and posing of them. Yes, celebrated photographers can shoot second rate work, even with a staff of 10 on hand.

Rusu Tudor's picture

If people don't like retouching they should stop looking at photos. Idiots. It's not like, oh here I am let's retouch this.. no. It's a skill that needs extensive training and the right tools. Sigh.

Khatleen Minerve's picture

You do not make much sense on your first point because as it is, retouched photos - whether retouched extensively or just a minimum - pop up on every visual medium. They are just everywhere, so how does one avoids looking at them ?

Rusu Tudor's picture

That was the point :) Either deal with it, either stop looking at images. It makes you wonder, do some people accuse adobe to the extent that they do because they cannot get themselves to learn the suite?