Bettina von Zwehl

Bettina von Zwehl (born Munich, 1971) has built an international reputation for her subtle, distinctive photographic portraits. As her practice has developed, she has continued to seek out different ways of exploring the form; from her early works, most often defined by the exacting conditions she imposed on her subjects, to her most recent projects which reprise the tradition of the painted portrait miniature.
Her ongoing pre-occupation with the miniature, and its lesser-known C18th sub-genre, the eye miniature, was inspired during her six months as Artist in Residence at the Victoria & Albert Museum. The work that emerged during that time presented several significant departures for the artist, particularly in that her habitual use of flash made way for a new appreciation of north facing natural light. In Made up Love song 2011 and Ruby’s room 2013, von Zwehl’s new approach combines a sense of lightness and spontaneity with the texture, poise and stillness of her previous images. Her new methodology also reveals a deepening interest in the politics and the possibilities around the three-way dialogue between artist, sitter and viewer.

In her most recent exhibition, Invitation to Frequent the Shadows (Freud Museum, London 2016), von Zwehl has responded to the archive of Anna Freud. The work forms a delicate and in depth exploration of grief, loss and friendship.