Ellen von Unwerth - Photo of the artist - Image via hazine Years of 2017, 2015, 2014 and 2013 were crucial for news use privacy rules

Ellen von Unwerth

Germany 1954



Ellen von Unwerth
Ellen von Unwerth
March 15, 2017
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Ellen von Unwerth is an American photographer and director that specializes in erotic femininity that plays the role of her focal creative point. She is best known for her black and white images of female celebrities and icons, including the likes of Britney Spears, Claudia Schiffer, Christina Aguilera, Milla Jovovich, Monica Bellucci and Rihanna[1]. Her images have appeared in prestigious publications like The Face, Arena, Twill, Vogue, I-D, Vanity Fair and Interview. Ellen also shot campaigns for brands such as Dior, John Galliano, Ralph Lauren and Uniqlo. As it was clued at earlier, this artist directed short films for numerous fashion designers and music videos featuring various celebrities. It should be noted that Ellen von Unwerth earned a living as a model her early twenties, dedicating about ten years of her life before finally turning to making photography.

Ellen von Unwerth - Beauty of Milla Jovovich. 1997 - Image via pleasurephotoroomcom
Ellen von Unwerth – Milla Jovovich. 1997 – Image via pleasurephotoroom.com

Early Career and Photography

Ellen von Unwerth was born in the year of 1954, in Frankfurt, Germany. Her childhood imagination and creativity ended up taking her all the way to a job at a circus where she was an assistant for a magician. She performed regularly in several magic acts as she was nearing her high school graduation. Around the time she was twenty years old, Ellen von Unwerth became a photographic model and relocated to Paris. She remained in front of a camera for about twenty years and even earned accolades, including being on the cover of Cosmopolitan. However, Ellen did not enjoy the static feeling of simply following instructions and posing for a picture, she always felt that a lot of freedom was missing. This all changed when her boyfriend bought her a camera, after which von Unwerth started to develop her own artistic skills. Her evolution as an artist eventually led her to a photo shoot in an African country – when these pictures were published, Ellen immediately found her new passion and established herself as a household artist.

Ellen von Unwerth - Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Melissa Haro - Image via ellenvonunwerth
Ellen von Unwerth – Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Melissa Haro – Image via ellenvonunwerth.com

Documenting the Music and Fashion World

In 1989, Ellen had her first notable personal milestone as a professional fashion shutterbug when she was hired by Guess, the jeans manufacturer. Von Unwerth created numerous print ads with a brand new model named Claudia Schiffer. Effectively, this photo series made both the model and the author a star. With time, Ellen would shoot many other Guess models as well, such as Naomi Campbell, Eva Herzigova and Paris Hilton. Technically speaking, the work of Ellen von Unwerth ranged from black-and-white images to very colorful glamor shots, all beautifully composed. In 1991, she won first prize at the International Festival of Fashion Photography. For the next five years, Ellen worked with the icons of the celebrity world, taking pictures of Madonna and Drew Barrymore among the others. All through the 1990s and 200s, Ellen was very active in other types of media besides photographing, but she still maintained her visual style regardless of the chosen medium. She began directing music videos and released three photo books that featured some of her most eclectic works – the most successful ones were Snaps in 1994 and Couples[1] in 1998.

Ellen von Unwerth spent almost the entirety of her life developing the art of fashion photography either as a model or as an author

German Vogue features women with beauty like Rihanna
Ellen von Unwerth – Eva Green in Glamour Italia August 2016 – Image via bp.com

Ellen von Unwerth and Her Unique Dose of Insight

Since Ellen von Unwerth was a model herself during the majority of her younger life before she started being the one who shoots images, she now possesses a valuable insight of just how it feels to be on either of the sides of the camera. This might very well be the key aspect of this photographer’s work as it allows her to know her practice in-depth and get the absolute maximum out of every picture and model. As evidenced by her prizes and recognitions, Ellen von Unwerth’s stylistic, editorial and advertising photographs are a true milestone of the fashion photography, one without whom the entire subgenre would definitely not be quite the same.

Ellen von Unwerth lives and works in Frankfurt, Germany.


  1. Sischy, I., Von Unwerth, E., Ellen von Unwerth: Fraulein, FrTaschen, 2011
  2. Von Unwerth, E., Ellen Von Unwerth: Couples, Schirmer/Mosel Verlag Gmbh, 2011

Featured image: Ellen von Unwerth – Photo of the artist – Image via hazine.com
All images used for illustrative purposes only.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group 
2015My WayIzzy Gallery, TorontoSolo
2015Gilles & Boissier: MorphéeActe2rivegauchelagaleriedenface, ParisGroup
2015THE FASHION SHOWWeinstein Gallery, MinneapolisGroup
2014LoveCamera Work, BerlinGroup
2014Miami Project 2014Staley-Wise Gallery, New York Group
2014Made in AmericaFahey Klein Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo
2014Supermodels – Then and NowCamera Work CWC Gallery, BerlinGroup
2014En compagnie de Guy BourdinHaus der Photographie, Deichtorhallen, HamburgGroup
2013Playdate- Ellen Von UnwerthStaley-Wise Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2013Traumfrauen Traummänner50 Starfotografen zeigen ihre Vision vom Ideal - Kunsthalle Rostock, RostockGroup
2013Camera Work RocksCamera Work, BerlinGroup
2013Beauty In The 21St Century (Dream Women , Dream Men)Multimedia Art Museum - Moscow House of Photography, MoscowGroup
2013Collectible IIIA. Galerie, ParisGroup
2013LITTLE BEASTActe2galerie, ParisSolo
2013The Story of OlgaCamera Work CWC Gallery, BerlinSolo
2012Ellen von UnwerthCWC Gallery, BerlinSolo
2012Do Not DisturbMichael Hoppen Gallery, LondonSolo
2012ColorCWC Gallery, BerlinGroup
2012The Nude InterpretedStaley-Wise Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2012Best of Fashion PhotographyCONTRIBUTED Studio for the Arts, BerlinGroup
2012Caught!Izzy Gallery, TorontoSolo
2012Fotografias de moda alemas de 1945 a 1995Galeria do Torreão Nascente da Cordoaria Nacional, LisbaoGroup
2011Ellen Von Unwerth - PhotographsFahey Klein Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo
2011Ellen von Unwerth - The Big ShowCONTRIBUTED Studio for the Arts, BerlinSolo
2011TraummännerDeichtorhallen Hamburg, HamburgGroup
2011Berlin bei NachtNRW-Forum Kultur und Wirtschaft, DüsseldorfSolo
2011Omahyra and BoydGalerie Wouter van Leeuwen, AmsterdamSolo
2011BEAUTY CULTUREThe Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles, CAGroup
2010Ellen von Unwerth - Solo ExhibitNRW-Forum Kultur und Wirtschaft, DusseldorfSolo
2010The Big PictureStaley-Wise Gallery, New York City, NYGroup
2010Zeitgeist Becomes FormAustralian Centre for Photography, Sydney, NSWGroup
2010Summer in the City '10 Galerie Wouter van Leeuwen, AmsterdamGroup
2010Good HumourStaley + Wise Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2010A Positive ViewSomerset House, LondonGroup
2009Ellen von Unwerth - FräuleinStaley-Wise Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2009Ellen von Unwerth: FräuleinGalerie Wouter van Leeuwen, AmsterdamSolo
2009FräuleinMichael Hoppen Contemporary, LondonSolo
2009FräuleinMichael Hoppen Gallery, LondonSolo
2009Zeitgeist Becomes Form: German Fashion Photography 1945 - 1995Yuchengco Museum, Makati CityGroup
2009America The BeautifulStaley + Wise Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2008Mujeres en pluralFundacion Canal, MadridGroup
2008Zeitgeist Becomes Form: German Fashion Photography 1945–1995Dunedin Public Art Gallery, DunedinGroup
2008FASHION - 9 decades of fashion photographyCamera Work, BerlinGroup
2007Ellen Von Unwerth: REVENGE Pobeda Gallery, MoscowSolo
2007FashionMichael Hoppen Gallery, LondonGroup
2006Summer in the City 06Galerie Wouter van Leeuwen, AmsterdamGroup
2006La Danza delle AvanguardieMART - Museo d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, RoveretoGroup
2005Ellen von Unwerth: Omahyra & BoydGalerie Wouter van Leeuwen, AmsterdamSolo
2005Summer in the City Galerie Wouter van Leeuwen, AmsterdamGroup
2005Passionate Image: The Body in Art and AdvertisingSteven Kasher Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2004Photographs AEROPLASTICS contemporary, Brussels Group
2004Fashioning Fiction in Photography since 1990MoMA - Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NYGroup
2003Ellen von Unwerth: RevengeGalerie Wouter van Leeuwen, AmsterdamSolo
2003Ellen von Unwerth - RevengeStaley-Wise Gallery, New York City, NYSolo
2003Ellen von Unwerth - RevengeCamera Work, BerlinSolo
2003Archeology of EleganceSchirmer Mosel Showroom, MunichGroup
2002Archeology of EleganceDeichtorhallen Hamburg, HamburgGroup
2002Lookalike. Barbie Lolita Lara CroftWitte de Withstraat 63, Rotterdam, NetherlandsGroup
1999Ellen von Unwerth - Original SinStephen Cohen Gallery, Los Angeles, CASolo

Total Turnover: $105,540

Total Number Of Artworks Sold: 7

Total Sell Through Rate: 100.00%

Artworks Sold Price Range



Total Turnover: $105,540

Number Of Artworks Sold

Total Number Of Artworks Sold: 7

Sell Through Rate

Total Sell Through Rate: 100.00%
Ellen von Unwerth-Untitled, From The Series Revenge-2003

This blurred image is only for you to be able to identify the artwork. If you want to discover artworks from Ellen von Unwerth, go to this page.

  • Artist: Ellen von Unwerth
  • Artwork: Untitled, From The Series Revenge
  • Size: image: 32.5 x 48; sheet: 40.5 x 50 cm
  • Medium : Gelatin silver print
  • Creation Year: 2003
  • Last Estimated Price: $4,129 - $6,882
  • Last Hammer Price: $3,303 *
  • Highest Hammer Price: $3,303 *
Ellen von Unwerth-Mission Accomplished-2014

This blurred image is only for you to be able to identify the artwork. If you want to discover artworks from Ellen von Unwerth, go to this page.

  • Artist: Ellen von Unwerth
  • Artwork: Mission Accomplished
  • Size: image/sheet: 139.9 x 200.8; frame: 145 x 206 cm
  • Medium : Archival pigment print, flush-mounted
  • Creation Year: 2014
  • Last Estimated Price: $25,889 - $38,833
  • Last Hammer Price: $28,477 *
  • Highest Hammer Price: $28,477 *
Ellen von Unwerth-Selected Images From Revenge-2002

This blurred image is only for you to be able to identify the artwork. If you want to discover artworks from Ellen von Unwerth, go to this page.

  • Artist: Ellen von Unwerth
  • Artwork: Selected Images From Revenge
  • Size: Each approximately 48.7 x 32.8 cm
  • Medium : Four gelatin silver prints
  • Creation Year: 2002
  • Last Estimated Price: $6,118 - $8,566
  • Last Hammer Price: $6,120 *
  • Highest Hammer Price: $6,120 *
  • Artist: Ellen von Unwerth
  • Artwork: Parasol
  • Size: image: 150 x 100 cm
  • Medium : Gelatin silver print, flush-mounted
  • Creation Year: 1990
  • Last Estimated Price: $21,650 - $28,870
  • Last Hammer Price: $57,730 *
  • Highest Hammer Price: $57,730 *
  • Artist: Ellen von Unwerth
  • Artwork: Mask, Paris (Nadja Auermann)
  • Size: 101 x 68.6 cm
  • Medium : Gelatin silver print
  • Creation Year: 1991
  • Last Estimated Price: $6,000 - $8,000
  • Last Hammer Price: $5,000 *
  • Highest Hammer Price: $5,000 *