A Swiss Vision of Beauty

La Prairie, the luxury skincare house, has comissioned award-winning Swiss artist Douglas Mandry to produce a series of images of Swiss landscapes that highlight the beauty of Swiss nature and its inherent fragility.

«Capturing Swiss nature is a testimony of its sublime essence. Looking at a landscape, I start to simplify shapes. Once I have captured this piece of nature, I transform it. This is the starting point of my creations: merging my experience of nature with my cultural background

For the collaboration with La Prairie, Douglas Mandry traveled throughout Switzerland to capture the wild environment and impressive landscapes of his homeland.
«After hours of walking, sometimes I just happen to be at a place which strikes me. Capturing this nature is for me a testimony of its sublime essence. Afterwards, I try to re-appropriate this untouched and unspoiled environment and make it my own. So the whole process is about merging my experience of nature with my cultural background,” explained Mandry.

Experimenting with both traditional photographic techniques and pioneering new processes, Mandry uses the medium as a raw material, stretches it, reworks it to go beyond the qualities of the original photograph. By manipulating his photographs in this way and combining them with non-photographic elements, he creates a new typology of objects that rests somewhere between two- and three-dimensionality.

With this new venture, La Prairie proudly continues to collaborate with Swiss artists. Douglas Mandry’s inspiring tribute to Swiss nature speaks to La Prairie’s own tireless pursuit of timeless beauty. A pursuit that has become a purpose, for the luxury house who supports initiatives promoting culture and science through the prism of Switzerland as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives.

Left: The three unique works that will be auctioned off. Right: Mandry at work.

To that end, three unique works, the striking result of La Prairie’s collaboration with Douglas Mandry will be auctioned online on Artnet Auctions from November 4-18, 2020.
The proceeds of the sales will be donated as part of the brand’s ongoing support for ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) through its ETH Foundation. Their pioneering work in the field of climate studies, glaciology and environmental conservation is shared with La Prairie’s overarching commitment to protecting and preserving its land of origin.

Please enjoy this little interview with Douglas Mandry:

Tell us more about yourself an as artist. What is your background?
I was born in Switzerland and work in Zurich today as an artist and photographer, where my studio is based. I graduated in 2013 from Lausanne’s ECAL University for Design and Art with a specialisation in photography.

What are your main sources of inspiration?
I do read a lot. I am inspired basically by any possible thing. I try to cultivate a background in image paintings, philosophy, and a bit of technology too. My work is a response to society, to different aspects of the society I have grown up in and I live in. My own experience of life has become a tool for inspiration.

Please share some insight about your creative process. What is the idea behind «breaking/manipulating» reality?
The way we experience reality is so complex and has many layers to it. As a photographer, if you think of representing reality, you think of constructing a certain reality through photography. When I was studying and doing my own photographs, I realised that I was more interested in constructing my photographs than actually taking them. The whole process before I take the picture is, for me, as — if not more — interesting than taking the picture or enjoying the result. Photography has so many aspects to it: between the moment you create or you have an idea of creating an image, until the way you or someone else experiences it, it’s actually a lot of steps. It is a succession of steps and each one is equally important to create a result.

What is your definition of Swissness?
To me, Swissness has two sides to it. On one hand, a high respect for tradition, knowhow and craftsmanship. And on the other hand, an advanced interest for progress in technological precision and development. Two sides which work really well in one concept.

How was your collaboration with La Prairie? What does the brand evoke to you?
La Prairie evokes to me many Swiss qualities, such as a close connection to nature but also a certain very precise know-how and elevated craftsmanship. This is what I consider the essence of Switzerland to be.

Do you think that art and beauty are related? How?
I believe beauty is everywhere. Art can be used to question beauty or to establish beauty standards across time and different cultures. They are more than related, they flow with each other.

Tell us about your future projects.
I am currently developing a project focusing more specifically on the topic of Swiss glaciers, working both with archive photographs and experimental image-making tools.

Thank you, Douglas!

LoL, Sandra

Photos: © La Prairie

Photo Shoot with Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry

“What is important to my work is the individual picture. I photograph stories on assignment, and of course they have to be put together coherently. But what matters most is that each picture stands on its own, with its own place and feeling.” Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry certainly is one of the most beloved and renowned photographers of all times. Born in 1950, the American is best known for his images of the conflict in Afghanistan. His career kicked off, when, disguised in native garb and with full beard, he crossed the Pakistan border into the rebel-controlled country just before the Russian Invasion was closing it to all Western journalists. McCurry had rolls of film sewn into his clothes and was one of the first ones putting a human face to the issue on every masthead.

His photograph, “Afghan Girl” that originally appeared in National Geographic magazine, is one of the most published photos in the world. Steve McCurry lives in New York but spends two-thirds of the year travelling the globe.

Steve McCurry-Sandra Bauknecht 18Steve McCurry with me

Being such an iconic voices in contemporary photography, McCurry is also shooting more “glossy” things, such as the world’s most famous Pirelli calendar. During the St. Moritz Art Masters, I had the honour to meet him and being photographed by him.

Steve McCurry -Sandra Bauknecht

As for me, the reason of his success is to be found in the aesthetics of his photos, the way he works with his “object”. He saw me in a different way, found my long hair too graphic and made me put it up in a disheveled chignon to show more of my shoulders that he liked a lot.

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Enjoy some of the behind-the-scenes shots! I cannot wait to show you the final result. And of course, stay tuned for a detailed outfit post to be published soon.

LoL, Sandra

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Steve McCurry-Sandra Bauknecht16Photos: © Steve McCurry and © Sandra Bauknecht