Irina Ionesco is a French-Romanian photographer who began exhibiting her work in the mid-1970s. Her photography is dark, dramatic, erotic, and strongly evocative of a vintage aesthetic. I see lots and lots of influence from the 1920s – from the lavishly ornamental tendency in portraits from that period, where female subjects are arranged in feathers, furs, headdresses, high heels, and assorted paraphernalia, along with the era’s makeup, and the overall “sexy/macabre” vibe and vampish aesthetic of the ’20s.
There was a lot of controversy surrounding Ionesco’s nudes with her young daughter as the model. More on that below.
Irina’s images of her daughter, Eva Ionesco, were very controversial, as you can probably imagine. In these, the prepubescent Eva is displayed in an array of nude, erotic, and bondage-flavored poses, with a seeming precocious knack for modeling, an intense gaze, and a weird, Lolita-esque allure. I find these photos to be some of Ionesco’s most interesting work, though, and personally, my perceptions of artworks are totally divorced from any moral values, so I don’t really think about them in terms of whether it was okay for Irina to use her daughter for such images or not.
Here’s an interesting tidbit: Eva Ionesco’s first acting role, at age 11, was in my second-favorite Roman Polanski film, 1976′s The Tenant (my favorite is 1965′s Repulsion). Around the same age she appeared in erotic roles in a “soft-core surrealist sci-fi” film called Spermula (which sounds hilariously bad), and in Maladolescenza (“Adolescent Malice” in English), which “has a reputation of anything from a beautiful work of genius, to the lowest form of titillation.”
Eva is directing her first feature film this year, Je ne suis pas une princesse, an autobiographical movie with Isabelle Huppert in essentially the role of her mother.
If you’re curious, Eva has the same intense gaze as an adult.
See many more Irina Ionesco images here.