Born in Paris to Polish parents, Sieff was a photography student of Gertrude Fehr. He is famous for his photography of well-known artists, political figures and nudes. Working mostly in black and white, Sieff’s main interest was nude photography and the erotic. While working for Elle Magazine, he was responsible for bringing an erotic flare to what was then considered a magazine that entertained only highly elevated art. Sometime after his time with Elle, he left France for New York where he worked for Vogue, Esquire and Harper’s Magazine. Describing his own understanding of his work, Sieff wrote: “All photography is a moment of oneself and others, of things and of the world; it is, at one and the same time, the eternalizing of an emotion and its erosion. Taking photographs is a strange occupation, daring to want to stop time.” In keeping with much of this sentiment, Sieff’s famous nude images were composed with a subtle contradiction of the high elegance and noble beauty of the nude interrupted by the presence of more mundane everyday objects such as tables or bed sheets.
Text © Cigdem Mirol