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.