For the 18th Mois de la Photo à Paris, ArtReview turns its Nadar radar on full beam and tracks down five of the best art photography exhibitions in the city.
The Pompidou Centre’s giant collection of modern and contemporary photography—over 40,000 photos and 60,000 negatives, will forthwith be accessible, for free, in a permanent gallery space on the first floor. The first exhibition is a first-ever retrospective of the 10-year career of Jacques-André Boiffard (1902-1961), a key figure in French surrealism who quit the movement, and photography, in 1940, to become a radiologist, and never showed another photo—except, of course, x-rays.
Like Ralph Waldo Emerson, from whom the title of this show was borrowed, Sylvain Couzinet-Jacques finds romance in the ordinary and everyday—in his and this case images of people and landscapes in America and Spain, which he renders strange, and strangely beautiful, by darkening, over-exposing, blurring and creasing. Many of the colour and coloured works in this show could have been stills from a David Lynch film, which us why the weird ambience of Silencio, Lynch’s member’s club in Montmartre, named and modelled after the creepy club in Mulholland Drive, is their perfect foil.
The seven-decade career of Keld Helmer-Petersen (1920-2013) is neatly presented by curator Michael Sheridan in Denmark’s cultural center on the Champs-Elysées. Helmer-Petersen’s last works, structural studies of patterns, often in black-and-white, are exquisite, but his pioneering 'camera abstractions' —in which the vibrant colours of industrial objects and mass-produced architecture are treated as forms— are the true stars of the show, as eye-poppingly fresh as when they first appeared, in Life magazine, in 1949.
Aitor Orti, Jean-François Spricigo and Eric Kessel: Intromisiones: Toujours l’Aurore; Small Universe, through 4 January 2015, at Centquatre
Once a municipal funeral parlor, the Centquatre now houses a wood-fire pizza truck, two restaurants, an organic grocer’s, several concert halls and theatres, and no shortage of exhibition spaces. In one, Spanish photographer Orti shows a mini-retrospective of his black-and-white photos of evolving urban space—mainly in and around Bilbao, where he lives. In another, Belgian photographer Jean-François Spricigo presents new black-and-white prints of his sujets fétiches: animals, children, and rocks. And in a third, Dutch collector/curator Erik Kessels has assembled an overview of contemporary Dutch photography, showcasing nine photographers, including Milou Abel, Sema Bekiro Vic and Mélanie Bonajo.
Yannick Vigouroux creates an echo chamber of photographic history by taking seaside snaps of seaside snaps with box, digital pinhole, toy, Polaroid, Fuji Instax Wide and smartphone “Poladroid” cameras (the latter armed with the very nifty Vignette app), refocussing our virtually distracted attention on the fragile physicality—the indecisive instant, as opposed to Henri Cartier-Bresson’s decisive one—of the photographic image.
19 November 2014