“My life is zero, my life is beautiful”: reframing of the legacy of Davide Sorrenti


My Beutyfull Lyfe chronicles the inner world of the pioneering 90s photographer over his last two years, before dying at just 20 of age

In 1997, President Clinton addressed the American fashion industry condemning magazine editors, photographers and stylists for romanticizing the use of heroin. “Fashion photos over the past few years have made heroin addiction glamorous, sexy and cool,” Clinton said, “and as some of the people in those images are starting to die now, it has become apparent that this is no longer the case. is not true. ” His speech struck with the sudden death of Davide Sorrenti, (son of Francesca, brother of Mario and uncle of Grey), a photographer prodigy who died at the age of 20 in a friend’s Manhattan apartment.

After many long months, a toxicology report finally debunked the confusion between Sorrenti’s death and drugs – it was actually due to thalassemia, a rare blood disease – but his death marked a turning point in the world. fashion imagery. Along with Corinne Day and Juergen Teller, Sorrenti spearheaded the controversial heroine’s chic look, ’90s aesthetic that defined the generation with sparse, candid photographs of strained models like Kate Moss and her girlfriend. , Jaime King (who was herself admitted to rehab for opioid addiction). And while his legacy is involved in the movement, Sorrenti’s friends and family, as well as the fashion industry in general, have taken care to go beyond these associations.

Following the release of the 2019 documentary See Know the Evil and two IDEA monographs, ArgueSKE and Polaroids, a third volume has just been unveiled. My beautiful lyfe chronicles Sorrenti’s work from 1995 to 1997 through fashion campaigns, trial sessions, tear sheets and pages from his personal diaries – all edited by his mother, Francesca. “The title comes from Davide’s diaries. He used to say “even though my life sucks my life is good” and then he would laugh, ”she said,“ and since Davide was dyslexic, he usually wrote like the words sounded to him. “That same feeling. melancholy weighs heavily on the book’s 160 pages, through melancholy and defeated images of half-dressed models in the twilight, twisting away from the camera barrel or posed as if to penetrate her lens.

With sullen and smeared mascara, lots of cigarettes, and languid snaps of lonely women, Sorrenti’s work reads like some sort of proto-Tumblr – not meant to flatten his creativity, but speaks to the fictionalized brand of nihilism. who just lived life on a string. “These books are really just the beginning of the archives of his short life,” said Francesca, imagining what else Davide could have accomplished. “He would be 45 years old now if he had the chance to live with his illness. I think painting would have entered his creative life, I actually have some of his fabulous paintings. And he would certainly have had a partner and many children, it has always been his dream.

Of the hundred or so photographs in the book, it’s an image of Kirsten Owen with a turquoise lip and coral eye that Francesca says best captures Davide. “It really portrays his photographic personality; urban, gritty, but dreamy. He always showed me the photo over and over again, he loved it so much! I think he liked that Kirsten was a mom too. In fact, there are other photos of Kirsten with her child in the book. It is a moving explanation of Francesca’s position. As much as My beautiful lyfe documents Sorrenti’s inner world, it’s just as much an artefact of a mother’s love, her soaring admiration for her son, and a refusal to forget.

Order your copy of the book here.


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