Viviane Sassen — PHOSPHOR: Art & Fashion 1990-2023, discover her first retrospective at the MEP

The MEP – Maison Européenne de la Photographie – is proud to present the first retrospective in France by Dutch artist Viviane Sassen. This exhibition, which comprises more than 200 works, reveals over thirty years of multifaceted creation bringing together photography, collage, painting and video.

From 2023 October 18 to 2024 February 11

Taking up the two main floors of the MEP, the exhibition gathers together emblematic series, including “Umbra”, “Parasomnia”, “Flamboya” and “Roxane”, as well as unseen archives, mixed-media works incorporating photography, painting, collage and video, and fashion photography. This exhibition will shed light on Viviane Sassen’s creative process by focusing on two main themes: the incessant search for new photographic forms and the importance of intimacy in her work. For Sassen, photography is more than a mere surface: it is an opening onto a place where her dreams, desires and fears co-exist with the world in all its tangible reality.

Initially studying fashion design, Viviane Sassen quickly turned to photography, pursuing her education at the Utrecht School of the Arts (HKU). After completing her studies, she alternated between personal projects and commercial work. Her photographic style – with its saturated colours, interplay of light and shadow and unique portrayals of the human body – was soon in great demand. Viviane Sassen rapidly gained worldwide recognition, both in the fashion industry and in the cultural world.

On the occasion of this exhibition, a 400-page, fully illustrated book comprising several essays and designed by Dutch graphic artist Irma Boom, will bepublished by Prestel in collaboration with the MEP.


Eudocimus Ruber, from the series« Of Mud and Lotus », 2017 © Viviane Sassen and Stevenson (Johannesburg / Cape Town / Amsterdam)

The artist

Viviane Sassen was born in 1972 in Amsterdam, and lives there. She studied fashion design, followed by photography at the Utrecht School of the Arts (HKU), and Ateliers Arnhem.

Her work has been the subject of major solo exhibitions, including In and Out Of Fashion, Huis Marseille, Amsterdam (2012); Umbra, Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam (2014); Analemma: Fashion Photography 1992 -2012, The Photographers’ Gallery, London (2015); Pikin Slee, ICA, London (2015); Umbra, Fotografiska, Stockholm (2017); Lexicon, Foto Kunst Stadforum, Innsbruck, Austria (2017); Umbra, Deichtorhallen, Hambourg (2017); Umbra, Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (2017).

Sassen has also taken part in numerous group exhibitions, including New Photography at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2011), No Fashion, Please! Photography between gender and lifestyle at Kunsthalle, Vienna (2011); at the Museum für Neue Kunst Freiburg, Germany (2016); at the Museum de Fundatie, Zwolle (2016); at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation (2017); at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam (2017); at CAFA Museum, Chine (2018); at McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco (2020) and at Fotomuseum, Winterthur (2022).

Her work was featured in the main exhibition at the 55th Venice Biennale, The Encyclopedic Palace, in 2013.

Sassen was awarded the Dutch art prize, the Prix de Rome in 2007, and in 2011 won the International Center of Photography in New York’s Infinity Award for Applied/Fashion/Advertising Photography. In 2015, she was awarded the David Octavius Hill Medal from the German Photography Academy, and was also nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize for her exhibition Umbra. She has also received numerous awards for her publications.

Document to download


Organized with the support of