Michel Comte – between glamour and intimacy

Born in 1954, Swiss photographer Michel Comte is a master of spontaneity and change, always seeking new challenges. In the more than 30 years of his career, he has photographed film stars, supermodels, jazz and art greats as well as people in the world’s hot spots. Comte’s photographs are taken on the red carpet of film festivals and luxury hotels as alert and curious as in the ruins of the war zones of Afghanistan or Bosnia.

Comte’s photographs fetch top prices, for example, a black-and-white nude photograph by Carla Bruni was auctioned at Christie’s for 91,000 US dollars in 2008. Quite respectable for an advertising and fashion photographer.

In his portraits Michel Comte proves to be a master of staging. He has photographed Miles Davis, Catherine Deneuve and Tina Turner for magazines such as “Vogue” and “Vanity Fair”. Sophia Loren and Geraldine Chaplin are among those he has portrayed, as are George Clooney and Louise Bourgeois. Again and again Comte succeeds in giving the portraits a special touch, creating an interpretation of the personality from his visual language and the encounter. Comte has dedicated his own homage to the centre of his Parisian life, the Suite 152 of the Hotel Ritz in Paris, a series of his probably most personal portraits, created over the years.

Since Comte’s beginnings, one theme has always been at the centre of his interest: women. He has always painted a complex portrait of women, with first-class

Photographs between glamour and closeness, strength and vulnerability. They often show cool distance, but there are also warm and hearty pictures full of self-confidence and joie de vivre. Finally, Comte’s nudes stand as erotically charged metaphors for an image of women in transition.

Around the turn of the millennium, Comte began his voluntary work for organizations such as Terre des Hommes and the Red Cross. He has photographed in Afghanistan, Haiti, Tibet and Bosnia, among other places, creating series of images that deviate from the visual language of “Concerned Photography” and reveal his visual signature. In 2004, he founded the Michel Comte Water Foundation, an ecological foundation dedicated to one of the most explosive global core issues of the coming years, the water supply.

Michel Comte