Pirelli Calendar 2011 – A Journey into Mythology
They’ve become an endangered species of late, but in a not too distant past scarcely a garage or workshop wall lacked a photo calendar featuring skin aplenty. Typically gifted by a garage or fast fit supplier, the girls in each annual edition smiled down on customers and appreciative mechanics alike throughout the year. Pirelli’s calendar can also trace its ancestry back to this staunchly heterosexual ‘girly calendar’ era – indeed, Pirelli states the original idea behind the calendar was to “simply to create a great gift to motivate the sales force.”
All this has changed. Pirelli’s annual motivational gift has evolved into something quite different and the focus shifted from the girls depicted and their obvious natural assets to a view of femininity as seen through the lens of some of the world’s best known photographers. For 2011, the creative genius of Karl Lagerfeld takes the Pirelli Calendar yet another step away from the conventional auto industry calendar format and combines his vision of beauty with a deep-held passion for Greek and Roman legends.
Titled ‘Mythology’, the 2011 Pirelli Calendar is a photographic interpretation of some of classical civilisation’s most remarkable aspects. The 36 photos that make up the Calendar show 24 different subjects, including gods, heroes and myths. Lagerfeld has ‘sculpted’ these photos both in terms of their aesthetic rigour and for the recurring references to the art of sculpture and its classical tenets. All the photos are in black and white, a medium intended to lend character to the images and give them a certain three-dimensionality through the careful use of light.
“Actresses and models bring these new heroes to life and depict a new concept of the beautiful,” commented Lagerfeld. In total 21 protagonists were snapped for the 2011 calendar – 15 female models, five male models and the American actress Julianne Moore. Great Britain is represented by Jake Davis, one of the men setting foot for the first time in what has traditionally been female-only territory.
Lagerfeld’s work may perhaps polarise calendar fans, yet his choice of subject has its roots in deep-held beliefs. When asked why he opted for the theme of Greek and Roman mythology, he answered “because it’s my favourite religion: one god for every occasion. I’m a polytheist: all present-day religions are recent, but I prefer this mythology, which does without hell, without sin (an obstacle to happiness), and without forgiveness.” The multi-faceted artist shared that his love of mythology began at the age of six upon reading Homer’s Iliad, and today he refers to the ancient Greek author as his “educational source.”
And while tales of Zeus and friends may seem a world away from the practical business of selling tyres, Lagerfeld is right on the money when explaining the Pirelli Calendar’s significance to the Italian manufacturer. The German born artist and designer described Pirelli as having “made an image for itself with these calendars.” Elaborating, Lagerfeld continued: “You can’t buy them, and this gives them an aura of mystery. It’s a form of viral marketing way ahead of its time. When they started, they made them for mechanics and truck drivers! But they soon became landmarks in the art world.”