Exhibition / Museum
Photographic modernities, 1920-195017 Oct 2012 - 14 Jan 2013
The event is over
In 2011 the Centre Pompidou completed the unprecedented acquisition of more than 7,000 photographic prints, the Christian Bouqueret collection. This important collection illustrates the most glittering period in the history of photography, when Paris was a magnet for influential figures on the international stage and the avant-garde seized upon this new medium to invent modernity. The exhibition "Voici Paris" presents an unpublished selection of 300 images, some that have become icons in the history of photography of the first half of the 20th century. It blends works by the masters (Man Ray, Kertész, Dora Maar, Brassaï), with images by less famous artists, thus creating a picture of creative photography in France between the wars in all its wealth and diversity.
CURATORS QUENTIN BAJAC & CLÉMENT CHÉROUX; CURATORS, NATIONAL MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
In the Autumn of 2011, thanks to the patronage of the Yves Rocher brand, the Centre Pompidou acquired the photographic collection of Christian Bouqueret, the last large archive of French photography between the wars still in private hands. A rare and major acquisition, the subject of the exhibition “Voici Paris – Photographic Modernities, 1920-1950”, showing a selection of some three hundred images, including some of the great icons of the history of photography in th first half of the 20th century.
Started in the late 1970s, the collection assembled by Christian Bouqueret comprises almost seven thousand images, for the most part original prints, the work of more than one hundred and twenty photographers working in Paris between the nineteen twenties and forties. Representative of the rich fabric of Parisian life, this collection is a mixture of images taken by the great figures of photography (Man Ray, Kertész, Krull, Dora Maar, Brassaï) and images by less famous photographers (Moral, Steiner, Zuber). With the acquisition of the Bouqueret collection by the Centre Pompidou, described as “work of major heritage importance”, the photography holdings of the Centre Pompidou - one of the very few collections in the world qualified to present a complete history of modern and contemporary photography in all its diversity – is becoming the reference collection for the study of modern photography in France in the 1930s. Presenting a selection of unpublished images, “Voici Paris” creates a picture of the photographic output in France between the wars. At that time, Paris, host city for many foreign artists and photographers, was a magnet for influential figures on the international stage: Man Ray (United States), Germaine Krull, Erwin Blumenfeld (Germany), André Kertész, Brassaï (Hungary) and many others too, came to live and work here. Alongside French photographers (Henri Cartier-Bresson, Claude Cahun, Jean Moral, Daniel Masclet, Pierre Boucher, etc.), they were involved in one of the most glittering periods in the history of photography, when artists seized upon the medium to invent the modern view.
“Voici Paris” tells this story, from Man Ray’s first experimental attempts in the immediate postwar period: a time of great intensity in photography, notable for the emergence of surrealism, political questioning, social concerns and the advent of the illustrated press. It introduces the visitor to many of the trends represented in the major visual styles of the period and shows the breadth and diversity of the areas tackled not only by photographers from the artistic avant-garde, but also by reporters, illustrators and commercial photographers. “A fresh eye”, the first section of the exhibition, reviews the way these artists showed a fascination for the signs of modernity: factory chimneys, city crowds, telegraph poles, railways… High-angle, low-angle, moving shots, these techniques, influenced by the vocabulary and power of the cinema, were used to serve the glorification of the modern world, that of iron, concrete and the industrial object. Distancing themselves from this approach, surrealist circles, from Man Ray to Dora Maar, from Lotar to Blumenfeld, moving beyond the usual genres, then followed other trails, to conduct a more anxious interrogation of reality, often merged with the mysterious: experimental works, photograms, games and distortions of the human face allowed the real to be made magical and the unforeseen to play its full role. “The modern picture maker”, the third part of the exhibition, is devoted to the newly introduced relationships between the text, the letter and the photographic image, through a study of works made for advertising or illustration purposes, for the press or publishing. With these typographic works, photomontages and collages, the sign became as important as the letter. Under the title “Documenting social life”, the fourth part of exhibition reviews the social debate, increasingly to the fore throughout the 1930s, through the theme of workers, emerging leisure activities and Paris nightlife. Finally, the last section deals with the way in which some photographers, adopting a neo-classical aesthetic, revisited some of the genres of painting: the nude, the portrait, the still life. Over and above the presentation of a major acquisition, this is an overview of creative photography in Paris from 1920 to 1950 that the Centre Pompidou invites the public to discover, in all its richness and contradictions.
11h - 21h, every days except tuesdays
Acquis grâce au mécénat d'Yves Rocher