Love Letters to the Muse, the 2023 Pirelli Calendar created by Emma Summerton, is being presented today at the Pirelli HangarBicocca contemporary art museum in Milan.
The Australian photographer has dedicated this 49th edition of The Cal™ to her muses – to all those women who have guided her along the way in her search for inspiration, and in her choices as an artist and as a person. Emma Summerton is the fifth woman to put her name to the Calendar since the first edition came out in 1964. Her predecessors were Sarah Moon in 1972, Joyce Tenenson in 1989, Inez Van Lamsveerde (of the duo Inez and Vinoodh) in 2007, and Annie Leibovitz in 2000 and 2016. This year Emma Summerton herself, together with the director Carlo Alberto Orecchia, saw to the direction of the video presenting the 2023 Calendar.
“For the Calendar, I wanted to go back to the etymological root of the word ‘muse’. The muse originally represented the source, not just inspiring but also possessing talents in literature, science and the arts”, explains Emma Summerton, saying that she is “fascinated by women who do extraordinary, creative things, women who, starting with my mother, have inspired me throughout my life and throughout my career. People I’ve learnt a lot from: writers, photographers, poets, actresses and directors. So my idea was to celebrate these extraordinary women and create a world in which to represent them.”
The 2023 Pirelli Calendar brings together 28 shots of 14 models portrayed in the dreamy style that is a feature of Emma Summerton’s work. There is nothing random about the choice of models. Each one has close affinities with the Muse they have been called upon to represent on the sets, which were created in London and New York for the shoots that took place in June and July.
“In my shots, the borderline between the role that the models play and what they really are is not clearly defined and everything blends together to create images that sing to magical realism,” explains the photographer.
So, for example, as well as being a supermodel, Guinevere Van Seenus is also a photographer; Lauren Wasser is a model but also an athlete; Ashley Graham, who is the Activist in the Calendar, is known for her support of body positivity; Precious Lee is the Storyteller, for she loves writing scripts and tales.
Leafing through the Calendar, we see, in order of appearance:
Lila Moss – THE SEER
Guinevere Van Seenus – THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Adwoa Aboah – THE QUEEN
Karlie Kloss – THE TECH SAVANT
Sasha Pivovarova – THE PAINTER
Lauren Wasser – THE ATHLETE
Emily Ratajkowski – THE WRITER
Cara Delevingne – THE PERFORMER
Bella Hadid – THE SPRITE
Kaya Wilkins – THE MUSICIAN
Precious Lee – THE STORYTELLER
He Cong – THE SAGE
Adut Akech – THE DREAM CATCHER
Ashley Graham – THE ACTIVIST