A History of Large Format Photography and Tableau Vivant

Gabrielle Gill

The history of large format photography and the tableau vivant (French), or “living picture”—a staged scene with purposefully arranged figures and props–are critical to a deeper understanding of Lalla Essaydi’s work.  The artist draws on both of these practices to combine a pureness in her technique with Orientalist themes of staging and setting. Essaydi takes a unique approach to exploring cultural boundaries and critiquing nineteenth century Orientalist paintings. She explores many aspects of female identity by her use of henna painting; her visual commentaries on Orientalist stereotypes for Arab women; and her theatrical staging of photographs. Essaydi’s use of traditional large format photography supports her painterly techniques and strengthens the overall concept of her work.

A History of Large Format Photography

The Beginnings of Tableau Vivant and Essaydi’s Work

Cited Sources and Suggestions for Further Reading

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