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denis piel (b. 1944, France). Raised in Australia is an internationally acclaimed photographer, best known for his groundbreaking editorial work during fashion’s halcyon days of the 1980’s Vogue, GQ and Vanity Fair. Piel’s work has always raised an eyebrow, not only for its brave portrayals of his subjects but also for its fresh, almost raw honesty. Piel’s eye is now trained on Mother Earth, as sensual a subject as he had ever encountered.





Denis Piel, (Australian. born France, 1944)

 Piel opened his first photography studio in Australia in 1966. He moved to Europe in 1970. A 1979 assignment for the New York Times Magazine caught the eye of Condé Nast editorial director Alexander Liberman, who hired Piel for American Vogue. This led to an exclusive contract with Condé Nast.

Piel relocated to New York City in 1979 and spent the next decade creating the ground-breaking fashion and advertising images that have become synonymous with his name. His editorial work during fashion’s 1980s halcyon days in Vogue, GQ and Vanity Fair had always been motivated by what he calls “the truth behind the image ”.

Piel was awarded the Leica Medal of Excellence for Commercial Photography in 1987.

Piel founded Jupiter Films in 1985. He wrote and directed numerous Clio and Effie Award-winning commercials. He left Condé Nast in 1989 to concentrate on filmmaking, which resulted in his first feature-length documentary, Love Is Blind.

Piel’s interest in human relationships has not only been evident in his fashion, advertising and film work but more pointedly in personal projects that followed, most notably FACESCAPES.

FACESCAPES was exhibited at Museu de Traje, Lisbon, Portugal in 2008 and at Musée du Textile å Labastide Rouairoux, France in 2010.

In 2012, Rizzoli published a retrospective monograph of Piel’s fashion and portrait photographs called MOMENTS – denis piel. This collection of work was exhibited in New York and France.

A comprehensive retrospective exhibition called ESSENCE was exhibited in 2013 at the Rove Gallery in London.

Piel and his family moved to the rural southwest of France. This change in lifestyle inspired Piel’s, DOWN TO EARTH, with a subsequence book published in 2016.

 An exhibition at the Lumiére Brothers Center for Photography, in Moscow in 2017 titled FILM STILLS – Fashion Photography- denis piel, concentrated his unique cinematic style and artistic process that make his photography so enigmatic and unique.

An exhibition of DOWN TO EARTH was shown at PHILLIPS, in London. Feb 5th to 16th, 2018  










How does one describe a DENIS PIEL?

 A Director

A Painter

A Cruel Realist

A Poet

A Pop Culturista 

At the end a child with a camera

Constant challenges and shifts 

Work that moves and defines its times

The work was and remains a view into the emotions and less the content. 

It is driven by a constant search of available light and reaction mixed with a director’s voice constantly manipulating the soul of individuals so as to enable the observer to feel and touch the experience.

The images remain dynamic.

They revert to some fundamental thoughts of early reportage and are highly personal.

Are they one mans fantasy or reality.

Is the globetrotting mind of an artist soulful and dramatic of a continent far away evident in each snap?

Denis is and has become in many ways a painter of light and subject instead to use the camera as a tool he drives the lens into a relationship between the mind of the subject and his own, an intimacy caught every time without exception.

Upon the scene of fashion and style in the 80’s he became legendary amongst his peers for being able to remove distance and replace with intimacy.

The Leica became his frame and the talent became his sculpture.

I think now looking back he was always “the director” Denis and less the photographer. 

The cinematic realities and experiences, expressions and values he captured remain timeless and important on the landscape of photography.

They went color. He went black and white.

They were very studied.

He was very intuitive.

They wanted to fit into a trend.

He was keenly aware that he never fit into any trend.

In the final analysis had he not removed his journey and escaped to France his work would have become a greater and more potent influence on the photography scene of his times.

Now he returns

Stronger then ever creating a continuum of language and vision not only built of a mirroring of his feelings and views but more importantly driving once again a powerful message that within and in front of that snapped moment lives a timeless expression of a thought, a feeling and a relationship between him and his subject

His work reveals a series of relationships and questions about people and behavior and finally what is and what should be Beauty as seen only in his eyes and not in the eyes of the beholder.


Peter Arnell

Dec 2017  NY



Represented by The J. Blatt Agency, photography agent and producer





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