Venus of Umbria
The book, Monica Bellucci, published by Rizzoli, is a savory volume of photographs celebrating the varying modes of the international actress and sex symbol.
The book really begins on page 10 with her image, at age thirteen, taken by a local goldsmith named Lino. One sees a very young and beautiful Bellucci with a daisy accenting her hair and face while she holds a pensive downward gaze away off camera, lost in or possessed by an unknowable thought. “This picture,” admits the actress “would be the start of everything.”
Fast-forward. Bruce Weber captures her in an exquisite candid moment during a makeup session. The expressiveness of her left hand in counterpoint to the closed right hand of the makeup-artist whose thin brush hesitates millimeters from Monica’s left eye, highlights the brilliance of her eyes that burn through and beyond everything within reach. Her black tresses quietly and lovingly frame her taut beautiful face, taper off and collect at the nape of her long, erect, naked neck with a reassuring grace. I am like a muse who enjoys watching an artist portray her and who lives only through the people who describe her form
I am like a muse who enjoys watching an artist portray her and who lives only through the people who describe her form
Pamela Hanson’s lens catches Bellucci half-running, half air-borne, arms held wing-like, merrily chasing about her own footprints or those of others before her; her half-bare, ribbed and dimpled back is framed by her unzipped white dress. Her capacity to perform with such an effortless élan for both still and moving pictures is a unique attribute shared by few other beauties like Monroe and Isabella Rosellini. Bellucci remarks, “In the end it is an expression that is similar to love: you devote yourself with passion and generosity only to those who know how to stimulate you and lead you to reveal yourself.”
In a James White photo, she is rakishly disposed on a handsome satin chair, metamorphosed into an ingénue, tenuously and curiously suited for a Balthus canvas, and no less evocative than Nabokov’s famous barely legal Lolita. In a warm bath of muted colors and illumined atmospherics of Vermeer or Rothko, Dominique Issermann captures Bellucci, head cocked and held in the palm of her left hand, eyes gazing downward; she is all beauty, aloof and wondrously reminiscence of the same thirteen year old photographed by Lino, the local goldsmith, the alchemist of Umbria.
Chico Biala’s photographs of Bellucci are perhaps the most candidly beautiful of all. On page 40 we see her, most beautiful, imbuing the viewer with such unsolicited loveliness despite disarmingly disheveled hair. On page 90, Bellucci evokes Marlene Dietrich, getting ready in her dressing room and piquantly whistling “They Call Me Naughty Lola.”