Exercise 2.1 -Repetition of Motif


“Bring together a series of 12 images (a typology) in which a particular motif appears again and again. Select an appropriate way to display your series.

Definition on Motif

A decorative image or design, especially a repeated one forming pattern.

A dominant or recurring idea in an artistic work.

A single or repeated design or colour.


The question refers back to the work of Corinne Vionnet (link 3) in her series “Photo Opportunities”

I have referred to this work in my blog “Exercise 1.1 – The Origins of Photomontage”

It has strongly influenced my approach to overlays and I have produced work already which is my interpretation of this style. The origins of Montage

The Project

I started by looking at other ideas for the reproduction of a motif.  Some of my early thoughts were:

  • Andy Warhol – Marilyn
  • Colour cast
  • Stamps
  • Self portrait grid
  • Same place, different times of day
  • Self portraits in a specific style
  • Art’s most painted subject
  • Bamburgh Castle from the beach
  • Advertising through time – oxo, shampoo, perfume


I investigated the Andy Warhol idea by working on one of my self portraits


The picture was fun to produce and I learned a little more about post production but it did not have any real meaning. It was copying somebody else’s idea and I was looking for a little more creativity and originality.

At this point I started to become obsessive about the idea of perfume advertising and, as obsession is a good pointer to success I pursued the idea of specific perfumes, keeping the field fairly narrow.

The favourite perfume in this household is Chanel No 5 and on researching this further I discovered a vast history of advertising since 1921.

Many famous women have become the Chanel No 5 model over the years, for example, Marilyn Monroe, Keira Knightley, Nicole Kidman, Catherine Deneuve,  Carole Bouquet and many others.

Marilyn Monroe was reputed to have said, when asked what she wore in bed, “Why Chanel No 5 of course”. This set off a stream of very competitive challenges for the title.

My artwork for this project is made up of a background of the iconic Chanel bottle and box with an overlay of each of twelve Chanel models from the advertisments found on Google Images.

The models are Audrey Tautou, Brad Pitt, Candice Bergen, Carole Bouquet, Estelle Warren, Giselle Bundchen, Grace Kelly, Kate Moss, Lily Rose Depp, Marilyn Monroe, Nicole Kidman and Vanessa Paradis.

I thought a lot about presentation and whether it was necessary to display the models in chronological order but it transpires that women’s beauty has not faded over the ages and as the overlay of the model is in black and white it is not possible to tell the era from which the model has come apart from perhaps showing the fashion of the time. Even that is difficult to decipher and so I have made my mix randomly. There is one male model in the mix which I believe helps to keep interest and invite the viewer to return for a second look.

I have decided to display the images as a single grid. This gives each the same opportunity and allows the viewer to obtain best benefit from the repetitive motif. I considered other formats such as individual framed prints or an audio visual presentation and I also looked at whether to add text to describe the people in the picture but I preferred the chosen layout and have given the viewer the chance to identify the models thus holding his / her gaze for longer.

Chanel No 5 Composite-1

I was intrigued to look at whether by creating an image of my own, it would be possible for the viewer to establish if this was genuine.

This was my own result:

imagesN6ZHB01S Colin Chanel No 5


Who would know the difference?

One other picture which I discovered on my journey is the following:


It intrigued me because as I started looking at Chanel models it brought back my time photographing models on the catwalk of London Fashion Weekend where I started to realise how distorted and in some cases emaciated the models needed to be to compete in today’s market. At first I thought this was one of these and then I remembered the work of Sally Mann and, of course this is one of her children.

After further research, I realised that the Chanel context was a spoof created by the website http://www.tomorrowstarted.com about Chanel Kids. “Every child alive needs Chanel”. This just shows how when doing one’s research on the internet, one has to be extremely careful of the validity of the source. The picture is the most powerful one I have come across in the context of Chanel No 5 but although it has made me think about the modelling industry it is in no way authentic.


This project worked well for me because it gave me an opportunity to consider the advertising industry in terms of fashion models and a simple iconic image. It starts to demonstrate just how much effort has gone into advertising this single brand of perfume, the enormous cost involved in attracting customers by playing on their vanity, their sensitivity and their desire to become a part of a limited but fashionable group of people.





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