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March 7, 2012

Sleepless Nights in Paris’ Red Light District: 34 Intimate Photographs Document the Lives of Parisian Transsexual Prostitutes in the 1950s and 1960s

Christer Strömholm (1918-2002) was one of the great photographers of the 20th century, but he is little known outside of his native Sweden.

Arriving in Paris in 1959, Strömholm settled in Place Blanche in the heart of the city’s red-light district. There, he befriended and photographed young transsexuals struggling to live as women and to raise money for sex-change operations.

“These are images of people whose lives I shared and whom I think I understood. These are images of women—biologically born as men—that we call ‘transsexuals,’” Strömholm wrote in his book of the series, Les Amies de Place Blanche, published in 1983.

His surprisingly intimate portraits and lush Brassaï-like night scenes form a magnificent, dark, and at times quite moving photo album, a vibrant tribute to these girls, the “girlfriends of Place Blanche.”



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