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Nathalie Léger is the award-winning author of Suite for Barbara Loden and The White Dress, as well as an editor and archivist. She has curated exhibitions on Roland Barthes and Samuel Beckett for the Centre Pompidou, and is Director of the Institut Mémoires de l’Édition Contemporaine, an organization dedicated to preserving the archives of modern French writers.

Amanda DeMarco is an American writer and translator based in Berlin, translating from French and German.

pages: 160

format: paperback original

isbn: 978-1-948980-03-6

publication date: September 15, 2020


Nathalie Léger

Translated by Amanda DeMarco

“Bewitching.” —Vogue Paris

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Exposition is the first in a triptych of books by the award-winning writer and archivist Nathalie Léger that includes Suite for Barbara Loden and The White Dress. In each, Léger sets the story of a female artist against the background of her own life and research—an archivist’s journey into the self, into the lives that history hides from us. Here, Léger’s subject is the Countess of Castiglione (1837–1899), who at the dawn of photography dedicated herself to becoming the most photographed woman in the world, modeling for hundreds of photos, including “Scherzo di Follia,” among the most famous in history. Set long before our own “selfie” age, Exposition is a remarkably modern investigation into the curses of beauty, fame, vanity, and age, as well as the obsessive drive to control and commodify one’s image.


“Léger’s vigorous work consistently satisfies, with ideas crystallizing with the clarity of a photograph.” Publisher’s Weekly

“Nathalie Léger’s superbly original Exposition is a biographical novel meditating on the nature of biography itself.” Charlie Stone, The Arts Desk

“I’ve just re-read Suite for Barbara Loden by Nathalie Léger, translated by Cécile Menon and Natasha Lehrer, as well as the two forthcoming books that form a trilogy with that one: The White Dress, also translated by Lehrer, and Exposition, translated by Amanda Demarco. All three defy categorisation—history, essay, memoir, fiction. I admire the wholeness and agility of these works very much.” Catherine Lacey 

“Highbrow but highly readable.” ELLE (France)


Praise for Nathalie Léger’s Suite for Barbara Loden:

“Here, now, is a remarkable new book that does everything—biography, criticism, film history, memoir, and even fiction, all at once, all out in front. . . . In her combination of the conversational and the incantatory, the fragmentary and the infinite, Léger captures something of [Marguerite] Duras’s own tones and moods, yet her approach to Loden and her appreciation of “Wanda” are entirely her own.” Richard Brody, The New Yorker 

“Assigned to write the entry about Wanda (1970), Barbara Loden’s art-house movie, for a film encyclopedia, Léger let herself get lost. The result gracefully melds criticism, fiction, and autobiography, and is a powerful example of how summary, channeled through the most personal of perspectives, can be a form of art.” Christine Smallwood, Harper’s Magazine


cover art:

La Frayeur (1861–67) by Pierre-Louis Pierson
Salted paper print from glass negative with applied color, 5 x 5 15/16 in
David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1975