© Christer Strömholm, Belinda 1967.
Acclaimed photographer Christer Strömholm (1918-2002), though little known outside of Europe and his native Sweden, is considered one of the great photographers of the 20th century. His most renowned series of photographs are now on display at the International Center of Photography, marking the first presentation of Strömholm's work in an American museum.
The exhibit Les Amies de Place Blanche, originally published in 1983, is a journey deep into the red light district of Paris in the late 1950's - 1960's and focuses on young transgendered "ladies of night" who worked the streets of the Place Blanche district in hope of raising money to complete their gender transformation. The portraits both glamourous and gritty capture a sleazy yet stylish Paris long gone and recall the photography of Brassai with subjects in lush night scenes; lounging in hotel rooms, bars, and working the streets of Paris.
© Christer Strömholm, Jacky, 1961.
As Strömholm wrote in 1983: “These are images of people whose lives I shared and whom I think I understood. These are images of women—biologically born as men—that we call ‘transsexuals.’ As for me, I call them ‘my friends of Place Blanche.’ It was then—and still is—about obtaining the freedom to choose one’s own life and identity.”
Les Amies de Place Blanche is on view till September 2nd at ICP
The Book, now a cult classic, has also been reissued in English and French.