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Welcome Back to Mars

Welcome to Mars

My Good Fellow Americans, I have to write that I am proud to be one of you, even if from recent history. I could not have written that when that photograph was shot, in 2005, when it quickly became the icon of my series Life on Mars, a documentary work of the craziness of the Bush era (the same Bush who by now we look to as a Statesman, compared to you know who), American politics, and caricatural aspects of American culture seen from an unforgiving European perspective.

Today this photograph should be re-baptised in a more suiting title
Welcome Back to Mars. Mars, the God of war. Because whether we have declared war or not, we are obviously at war, and with Russia of all countries. But this time we are on the good side, and boy, what a good side that is! Even Hitler could not unite the good part of the world against him, as fast as Putin did. I grew up during the cold war, and in France, not all that far from the demarcation line, even if the only connection we had with the other side of the iron curtain, was the Mistral, that cold wind that sweeps the Rhône Valley a bit too often, and comes all the way from the Oural Mountains. Much later we had the radioactive cloud from Chernobyl as well, which should have taught us to be more guarded against Russia. I did though, started my photographic journey and subsequent career, on a Russian cruise liner in 1972, but that is a long story, mostly involving France's long Socialist flirt.

During all my youth, and until these past weeks, as maybe many of you, I never felt threatened by Russia. They were just irrelevant, possibly charming, cute and certainly annoying at times, but impossible to take seriously. Hence the general wonder whether NATO served any purpose. Nobody wonders about that anymore, more than covid, Putin's madness has re-shaped the world, and under glorious American leadership.

President Biden said during the recent State of the Union, that
never had he envisioned a brighter future for this Country. "Folks," if I may, I believe that is true. Before long Putin will be dead or jailed, and it then will only be a matter of time, before the West extends all the way to Vladivostok. What a different world then, so much more peaceful, even if not totally, under American hegemony like never before.

In the meantime, the situation cannot end fast enough, especially for these poor Ukrainians whose stamina and uplifting spirit is irresistibly inspiring. They are on the real frontline, and I'd like to make a toast to their courage and selflessness. Another toast will be to Putin's certain demise. One sure and comforting thing, is that he is agonizing, day and night, wondering who will come kill him.


Welcome to Mars

This was shot in the summer of 2005, on Mars, the only Mars there is on Earth, in Pennsylvania. I was engaged then in a rabid outcry against the War in Iraq, had documented many protests against it, and key moments of American politics in the previous 12 years.

All that work became unified under the title
Life on Mars, because of this photograph that symbolized the kitsch gentleness which is in the American DNA, but also hides an odd personality disorder. That disorder often manifests itself in war mongering and a sense of entitlement that we Europeans don't recognize in us, even if Americans do look like us, mostly. This series therefore look at Americans as if they were extra terrestrials, a sort of Invaders if you will (you know, the TV series). Of course if extra terrestrials, Americans must be from Mars, since it is one of the biggest planets, is green like the Dollar, and is the God of War.


Trump in Selma

TheSilentMajority_2_1400px_CFascination for the Absurd.


I had to go see Donald Trump, and it was quite an eerie experience. This was in Selma N.C., about 57 miles from Durham, but in an alternate universe. I thought I'd be safe with my disguisement, but there is no mask for someone like me in such an environment. There is a video on the Facebook page of the Church of Photography (click on "videos" on the left) of this adventure by my companion film maker Stewart Nelsen in this adventure. The photographs here need no commentary.


Il a bien fallu que je fasse mon devoir professionel, et que j'aille rendre visite à Donald Trump. Le calendrier a voulu que cela soit à Selma, Caroline du Nord, à environ 95 Kms de Durham, mais dans un univers alternatif. J'espérais que mon déguisement avec T-Shirt nationaliste et casquette du tour de France me rendrait sufficient ridicule pour passer inaperçu, vain effort. La leçon est qu'il n'est pas de masque pour mon genre d'acabit dans un tel monde. Ma carrière d'agent secret est remis en cause. Mon compagnon dans cette mission, Stewart Nelsen, Réalisateur, a produit une vidéo accessible sur la page Facebook de l'Eglise de la Photographie (clicker sur "videos" dans le menu à gauche). Les photographies ici n'ont sans doutes besoin d'aucun commentaire.

IsisInfiltrator_1200px_CIsis Infiltrator

Chuck Cromagnon

LockHerUp_1400px_CThe People Want Games and Bread

Funny Investor

Cheerleaders_1400px_CThe Trump Cheerleading Section

TheMussoliniMoment_1400px_CThis Mussolinian Moment


Cervantes is Among Us, The Origin

Edward Weston_Pepper 1930

Edward Weston: Pepper ,1930

In 1856, Gustave Courbet painted The Origin of the World (see below) which is my favorite painting in the whole art history. While there are many Van Gogh and more contemporary painting s that I adore, this painting is my desert island one because of the challenge it implies to the bourgeois vision of the world. I find it utterly modern, and still provocative more than 150 years later. It is also notable that this very realistic painting, especially for its time, came on the heels of the invention of photography in 1837, and it is my belief that we are then witnessing the start of the realists movement that the French poet Charles Baudelaire will incarnate, notably with Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil) which will owe him prosecution for indecency by the second Empire later in the 19th Century.

I mention Courbet's painting, as I am talking of "origins" here, and it seems that Courbet's masterpiece, opens the way to sexually explicit art in modern Western art, and therefore to what follows. I understand that posting this painting is controversial, especially in America, and so I will also add something that Adam Gopnik wrote "“… I think the French view of sex and life is essentially right and ought to be universally applicable: Sex with children or by force is wrong, and the rest is just the human comedy, unfolding, as it will. Puritanism is a sin against human nature ...” Adam is obviously talking of the French culture of the 21st Century, not the one of the 19th which it seems that some other countries are stuck into.

Somewhat later in 1930, Edward Weston, the father of photography as an art form, produces the pepper photograph above. It is a sensual study of shape that will mark the history of photography. There is no clear suggestion of anything particular, except for the voluptousness of what until then had only be seen as a mere vegetable.

CervantesIsAmongUs_Jean-Christian Rostagni

Jean-Christian Rostagni: Cervantes is Among Us, 2005

In 2001 we took our first trip to France since I had moved to the U.S. in 1993. The whole family (Trisha and our two daughters, then very young) went along. We visited Denis and his wife Solange in Bonnieux; I was writing then my first article for Photo techniques magazine on Denis. Soon upon our return, I find an eggplant at the market that was clearly reminiscent of Denis's and that surprizing pear. I of course bought the eggplant with the intention of photographing it, and realized that a studio photograph would border plagiarism of Denis' work. So I decided to bring the "subject" in my world, the everyday world, and this is how The Old Bore and the Kid in Me was born during a breakfast at Weaver Street Market with our friends Kelli Dugan and John St Clair.
The child in the background is our daughter Olivia, that Denis had quite charmingly bonded with during our then recent visit. The Old Bore and the Kid in Me inspired me to start a series titled La Nature Humaine which is a collection of photographs of nature metaphoric for human tales, and is in tribute to Denis and through him to Weston.

In october 2005 I saw those mushrooms at Duke Gardens. They were growing under a large oak tree, and that pear photograph of Denis clearly came back to my mind. This photograph though has political implications, as beyond the obvious sexual analogy, it above all wants to be reminiscent of the little guy who is not afraid of the bigger or more powerful ones, or if he is, hedoes not give in to his fears. I see Don Quixote in this mushroom that I hope to be emblematic of the call to stand up for what is right and against the forces of oppression which go back to the origins of society, and have nothing to do with Courbet's painting.

Denis Brihat_Poire-_Pear__-1971

Denis Brihat: Pear ,1971

In the early 50's, my mentor Denis Brihat sees an exhibition of Edward Weston in Paris, falls in love with that approach of photography which he decides to explore himself, in that direction. I will meet Denis in 1977, as one of my professors in the Department of Photography in the University of Sciences, Saint Charles in Marseille, and he will become a major source of inspiration for me. In the 50's Denis had settled in Bonnieux in the Luberon and since then developed there a collection of black and white photographs of vegetal life (fruits, vegetables, herbs, trees) colorized through toning, which means that he essentially photographed vegetal life and transformed it into mineral prints. I consider Denis as the current Edward Weston, as his work presents a clear evolution from Weston, pushing its boundaries.

Denis has always been an avid gardner, and once planted a pear tree, which the first year only produced one pear, the one in the photograph above. This photograph is iconic of Denis's work and was certainly present in my mind when I shot Cervantes is Among Us. Denis Brihat is represented in the U.S. by Nailya Alexander's gallery in New York.


Happy New Year / Meilleurs Voeux 2015

La Palette, paris, rue de seine
Des Amants dans mon Café, La Palette, rue de Seine, Paris, 1991.


I can't believe it has been 15 years already since the 20th Century! Given what we had to go through, it is impossible to pretend not having felt it, and anyway, a look in the mirror would certainly change such a feeling, but nevertheless, it seems it was yesterday.

May 2015 bring you much love, keep you in good health, and bless you with anything else you may wish.


J'ai peine à croire que quinze ans se soient déjà écoulés depuis la fin du 20ème siècle. Vu les couleuvres qu'ils nous a fallu avaler je ne puis prétendre de pas les avoir vu passer, et sinon d'ailleurs, un regard dans le miroir me ramènerait à une meilleure appréhension de l'assaut temporel, mais tout de même, cela est à peine croyable, et pourtant explique beaucoup …

Joyeuse continuation, et que 2015 vous apporte amour, santé et tout autre bonheur qui vous importe.


Can You Be a Successful Investor?

Edward Weston, Charis, Santa Monica, 1936. 9"1/2 x 7" 5/8, sold in December 2014 at Sotheby's for $653,000.

Eveil Matisse, nu

Jean-Christian Rostagni, Eveil Matisse aver Béatrice, Atelier en Provence, 1990. 12" x 18" piezzography prints, only a few left, $775.

Alfred Stieglitz, Evening, New York, 1931. 9"5/8 x 7" 1/2, sold in December 2014 at Sotheby's for $929,000.

new york, empire State, rockefeller view

Jean-Christian Rostagni, The City with Altitude, 2007. 13" tall print: $400., 16.5" tall print: $650.


Heard on the Radio

Obama inauguration



Mario, SoHo
Mario's Window for Thirty Years

This is a window in Mario's loft on Greene in SoHo. A 32" tall print of this photograph was on display for the month of October 2014 at the Durham Art Guild in the "Pixel and Grain show" where it got the People's Choice Award.

DAG_Pixel and Grain

Mario was a friend of my wife. She had met him while in Manhattan, 33 years ago. He was a studio photographer and master of a 5,000 sq. ft. loft in SoHo, compliments of rent control.  I met him ten years later.  He was the quintessential Italian, from Rome, with a Puglian tendency. Mario could go through a lot of red wine, and would tell captivating stories, notably one in which he and his girl friend left London for a vacation near Sicilia.  They took a boat to a small island, anticipating an escape into the austere but quaint local hospitality, only to discover that all the natives had left after painting on City Hall "We all left for Australia, it's all yours now, enjoy!"  The next boat back was three days later and could not come soon enough.  I have always wondered if that was a true story or if it had been inspired by some old film that everybody had forgotten, as it did feel like a Giuseppe Tornatore kind of script. Rome was never far from Mario's mind, with memories of Fellini, Dominique Sanda.  Mario loved beautiful women, and managed to be surrounded by them.  And they were there, 30 years later, faithful, in that space on 25th St, loaned for the occasion thanks to Graham, a long friend of 40 some years.  They had come to pay tribute, for his memorial, on his birthday, September 27, 2014. He would have been 73.

Mara_Mario Mara, September 28, 2014
Mario had passed away a year before, from a fulgurant cancer. He and I had two reasons to know each other, the second one was photography.  We also were both in exile from a latin country in an old world that we both missed.  That made for endless conversations, like when we walked on 9th Avenue, arm in arm like Italians do, probably lamenting on the art scene these days in NY.  Oh, that was sweet.  It seems that there was an endless number of art openings in NY, everyday, and we toured them together, which resembled a quest of the Grail in Sodom or Gomorrah.  That was in 2007, and around those years we got to explore New York thanks to Mario's hospitality.  It is because of him that I was able to capture there some of my most important photographs, hence my series on Manhattan.

Mario, Olivia, Alma Mario and Our Daughters in 2007
Mario lived like a monk, and most of us used to think that he would last forever.  Many of us are, therefore, still in denial about his death, as it does not seem possible.  At the memorial not everyone knew each other; at best we had heard of each other in conversations with Mario.  The only person there that everybody knew was Dorothy, his long time companion that he had met in London in the early 70's.  We all knew of Mara, Mario's daughter, but some had never met her. I was tickled that she takes so much after him, notably because I have daughters too, and I have always worried that they look too much like me, what I call the Chiara Mastroiani syndrome!  Mara handles that challenge graciously.  Her resemblance with Mario is touching and reassuring. It is as if he smiles at us through her eyes.


More Art, Less Pope

Art pope, Moral Monday, Raleigh, North Carolina

This is how the photograph looked once framed for the
Truth to Power show.
More Art Less pope, Truth to Power
I made this frame out of pine, with a mirror-like black lacquer finish. Museum glass on the front with spacers, and acrylic in the back to allow seeing of the signature and text about history of the print and photograph.

This photograph has nothing to do with Francis, but rather with the fellow who at the beginning of this story was still North Carolina's Governor's Chief of Budget, a billionaire who made his fortune is the retail sector praying of the very poor, a character who goes by the name of Art Pope, and is to North Carolina what the Koch brothers are to America in these times where the Tea party is still a factor.

I believe that photography's strength is its strong tie to reality. As a result, my work is always organic, and its intensity is rooted in the historic, poetic or emotional relevance of what is taking place in front of the eyes of the viewer. This photograph is very straightforward, yet it is more than its "raison d'être," the slogan that makes it universal. It would be rather simplistic to just capture a good one-liner on its own, and while that is mostly what is possible when documenting a street protest, I am only interested by that when the composition is elegant and visually dynamic. As a visual artist, what I present on a wall has to be visually satisfying, a concept that may not be part of a lot of contemporary photography.

The satisfaction here comes a little bit from the richness of the contrast and the perspective on a downtown street that seems generically American. The texture of the photograph enjoys a grain that gives it an intriguing timelessness. Probably above all, the composition includes a theater of faces that is reminiscent of William Klein, the great American photographer from the 60's and 70's who first created that effect, notably piercing through the crowds on Broadway.
Truth to Power, Mayor Durham, Bill Bell, Randy Voller, Chairman N.C. Democratic Party

This is how this photograph goes beyond good photojournalism. A William Klein influence here is pushed into the 21st Century but through a political subject, something that Klein never touched. Thanks to technical advancements I was able to add optical qualities and an appealing treatment of the grain, which allow larger print sizes. Apart from featuring the creator of this slogan, that improbable blonde Rastafari-styled activist turned somewhat mysterious with her incognito glasses, the first person on the left, with his round features and his glasses delicately outlined in the out of focus foreground, frame the photograph in a multidimensional composition.
Truth to Power, Mayor Durham, Bill Bell, Randy Voller, Chairman N.C. Democratic Party

It is also worth noting that while being shot in Raleigh at a rather North Carolina specific movement, this photograph has universal resonance.

You can see prices for this print

The Honorable randy Voller, Chairman of the N.C. Democratic Party, and Durham Mayor Bill Bell were the first politicians to visit the Truth to Power show at Pleiades Gallery--see two top photographs on the right--for which this photograph was created. They both agreed that art has an important place to reclaim in politics.
Nicole Uzzell, truth to power

And here is Nicole Uzzell the creator of the sign and slogan, at Pleiades Gallery one year later.

Although it most certainly has nothing to do with this slogan or this photograph, Art pope resigned from his position as Deputy Budget Director shortly after the end of the show.


This photograph was presented to Pope Francis by the Vatican Nunzio (Ambassador equivalent) to the U.N. on September 24, 2016, during the Holy Father's visit in NY. Msgr. Kassas, First Secretary of the Holy See's Mission to the U.N. seen here when I delivered the piece on September 14, 2016, tells me that the Pope took the piece back with him to the Vatican.
Pere Simon,holysee mission


My Photograph at the White House

inauguration 2009 obama

Of, By, For


Because of the extreme symbolism and emotional vibrancy of this photograph of the 2009 Presidential inauguration, and thanks to generous contributors from France and the United States, it was possible to present President Obama an
Of, By, For print. It felt important to seize the opportunity to associate art and politics in marking this unique historic event appropriately.

The photograph was floating between two glasses in a blond walnut frame created in my studio. See photograph of the framed print, more information about this photograph, the list of contributors and press around the fundraiser

The French Ambassador, M. François Delattre who had been very supportive of this endeavor since its origin, was so kind to involve himself in the delivery mission. On the right is a copy of the thank you letter from the White House.

May this serve our countries' friendship well. The French Republic can be proud of its Washington Ambassador.


See article in the Durham Herald Sun about this.

2/ See article in the Dauphiné Libéré (in the French column at right) in Valence, my home town.



Le fort symbolisme et la résonance émotionnelle de cette photographie aidant, grâce à la générosité de contributeurs français et américains, il a été possible d'offrir au Président Obama un tirage de
Of, By, For. Il paraissait important de marquer de la sorte cet événement éminemment historique, et d'associer ainsi art et politique.

Le tirage est présenté flottant entre deux verres dans un cadre en noyer blond créé dans mon atelier. Voir la photo encadrée, davantage d'informations sur le pourquoi de cette opération, la liste des contributeurs et la presse autour de la levée de fonds sur
cette page.

M. François Delattre, Ambassadeur de France à Washington, qui avait soutenu cette opération depuis le début, nous fit l'honneur de mener à bien l'acheminement vers la Maison Blanche.
white house protocol franch ambassador_rostagni

J'espère que cette démarche servira l'amitié franco-américaine. La République Française peut sans doute être fière de la qualité de la mission accomplie par son ambassadeur à Washington.

Mise à Jour:

Voir article dans le Durham Herald Sun à propos de ceci.
white House_photo_obama_article

2/ Ainsi que l'excellent l'article à droite dans le DauphinéLibéré. Cliquez sur la photo pour agrandir.



In Le Journal de la Photographie Today

miami airport, buddies


Summer is winding down, and this photograph appears
today in Le Journal de la Photographie, maybe because it is time for everybody to fly back home.

Shot in Miami airport in June 2012 coming back from Paris.


L'été touche à sa fin, et ainsi apparait aujourd'hui cette photo dans
Le Journal de la Photographie puisqu'il est temps pour la plupart de rentrer à la maison.

Fait à l'aéroport de Miami, rentrant de Paris en Juin 2012. Le titre Français pourrait être "Meilleurs Amis à Miami."


The Iraq War Started 10 Years Ago

The American Way_Irak War
The American Way

Rex Quinn, professional right Wing Activist, Durham, Main Street and 9th, N.C., May 1999. The Project for a New American Century is already at work.

Rex Quinn, Activiste professionnel d'extrême droite. Durham, Caroline du Nord, Mai 1999. Le "Project for a New American Century," idéologie des Néo-Cons est déjà au travail.

Patriotic Warehouse
Patriotic Warehouse

Lowes, Durham, N.C., May 2003.

Supermarché du Bricolage, Durham, Caroline du Nord, Mai 2003.

Bush Is A Terrorist
Bush is a Terrorist

March against the War, Fayetteville, N.C., April 2004.

Manifestation contre la guerre en Irak, Fayetteville, N.C., Avril 2004.

The Price_Iraq War
The Price

Fayetteville, NC, April 2005. Parents of Soldier Killed in Iraq. During March against the war.

Fayetteville, Avril 2005. Parents d'un soldat tué en Irak. Lors d'une manifestation contre la guerre.

Bleak Omen_Election 2004
Bleak Omen

Durham, NC, November 2004. The day after the "re-election" of Georges Bush.

Durham Caroline du Nord, Novembre 2004. Le lendemain de la "ré-élection" de Georges Bush.

We Wont Be Silent
We Won't Be Silent

Washington, DC, March 2007. In Front of the Pentagon.

Washington, Mars 2007. En face du Pentagone.

Amour Pour La France
Amour pour la France

Protest against the upcoming war in Iraq, January 18, 2003, Washington, USA

Manifestation contre la guerre annoncée en Irak. Washington 18 Janvier 200

Symphonie Cretins Majeurs
Symphonie en Crétins Majeurs

Washington, DC, March 2007. Counter-protesters during march against the war.

Washington, Mars 2007. Contre-manifestants during manifestation contre la guerre.

The Three Musketeers_Anti-Zionism
The Three Musketeers

Protest against the upcoming war in Iraq, January 18, 2003, Washington, USA

Manifestation contre la guerre annoncée en Irak. Washington 18 Janvier 2003

Indeed_Army of One

Butler County Fair, PA, July 2005.

Station de recrutement, Foire de Butler, Pennsylvanie, Juillet 2005.

Orange Dream
Orange Dream

Washington, DC, September 2005.

Washington, Septembre 2005.


Ten years ago the war in Iraq was about to start. Ten years only, doesn't it feel older than that? Those sorry years must have count double. During these years, this country and us who lived through the ordeal have been marked. Of course that is nothing compared to the tens of thousands, civilians and soldiers who died in it or were irreparably wounded, including in their mind. We should never forget how even in a presumed democracy, stupidity and arrogance can so easily triumph over reason and wisdom.

I will publish one photograph in this post every day of this week, as well as on the
Church of Photography Facebook page, feel free to "like" that page and/or subscribe (see column at right) to this blog to stay abreast. Those photographs are important ones from my series Life on Mars which talks of America notably during the Bush era.


Ils y a 10 ans la guerre en Iraq allait commencer. Dix ans seulement, ces années de malheur ont été interminables. L'Amérique, et nous qui y avons vécu pendant ces évènements avons été marqués. Et bien sûr, cela n'est rien par comparaison aux dizaines de milliers de civils et soldats qui ont péris ou en sont ressortis meurtris, dans leur chair où leur tête. N'oublions jamais comment dans une présumée démocratie, l'imbécilité et l'arrogance peuvent aussi aisément triompher de la raison et de la sagesse.

Cette semaine je publierai chaque jour une nouvelle photo dans ce billet, ainsi que sur la
page Facebook de l'Eglise de la Photographie. Vous pouvez "aimer" cette page Facebook, et/ou vous abonner à ce blog (voir "Subscribe" dans la colonne à droite) afin d'être tenu au fait de tout cela. Ces photographies sont des composantes importantes de ma série La vie sur Mars qui montre l'Amérique notamment sous George Bush II.


Joyeux Salon de l'Agriculture

Pas de Panique
Pas de Panique

La Philosophie du Pré Salé La Philosophie du Pré Salé

Scene Buccolique
Scène Bucolique

Joyeuse Saint Valentin / Happy Valentine's Day



Merci au journal de la Photographie d'avoir publier la photo ci-dessus dans leur
"Spécial Saint Valentin" d'aujourd'hui, voir ici.

Joyeuse Saint Valentin.

Ma Belle Américaine


Thank you to the Journal de la Photographie for publishing the photograph on the left for their
"Special Valentine's Day," see here.

Happy Valentine's day.

Des Amants dans mon Café
Des Amants dans mon Café

Ca di Giulietta
Ca di Giulietta

Scene Buccolique
Scène Bucolique

Ma Bonne Fortune
Ma Bonne Fortune


Happy New Year 2013


Here in the United States, Christmas is always a joyful time, no matter what. Colorful lights blossom everywhere, Frankie comes back on the air, and even those like myself, never ready for it, are gained by the atmosphere.

But Christmas is over, pine trees go back to their normal states, winter takes over,
Santa Sleigh
and Santa goes to his yearly well deserved vacation. It seems that this year he is heading to Florida, unless it is Cuba. I saw him on his way (see photographic evidences). Reindeers must be in vacation too, or on strike, but no matter what, there is no doubt that it is him in the car on the photograph, part of his rental motored sleigh in which I was able to glance at him on I-95.

Regular life is back, but don't be surprised if 2013 exceeds your expectations. An energy bonanza is falling on the U.S.
Santa Passing
It might complete the destruction of the planet, but before that, it will finish pulling us out of recession and will pull the rest of the western world behind. So smile, somebody might be taking your picture right now anyway, smile.

Happy New Year.


Noel, ici aux Etats Unis, est toujours une période joyeuse, quoi qu’il advienne. Les guirlandes abondent, Frank Sinatra revient sur les ondes, et même ceux qui ne sont jamais prêts, comme moi, sont gagnés par l’ambiance.

Mais Noel, c’est fini, les sapins retrouvent leur état naturel, l’hiver prend vraiment forme, et le Père Noel lui, pars en vacances, il ne l’a pas volé. Cette année on dirait qu'il va vers la Floride, à moins que ce ne soit Cuba. Je l’ai vu passer, voir photos à gauche. Les rennes doivent être en vacances eux aussi, ou en grève, mais quoi qu’il en soit, c’est bien lui sur la photo, et c'est son traineau de location dans lequel je l’ai surpris sur I-95, la RN 7 américaine, je n’ai pas rêvé.

La vie normale reprend ses droits, vous serez peut-être surpris de voir qu’en 2013 tout va aller au mieux, économiquement en tous cas. Les Etats Unis sont en train de sortir de la crise, et avec la manne énergétique qui nous tombe dessus, l’économie va s’emballer, et entraînera avec elle le reste du monde occidental. Souriez donc, en dépit du coût environnemental, et puis on vous prend peut–être en photo en ce moment, alors souriez.

Bonne année.





La nativité célébrée sur 9th Street in Durham, Caroline du Nord.


Scene of the nativity celebrated on 9th Street in Durham, N.C.


Monsieur Contraste World Premiere

Cucalorus Film Festival_Thalian Hall


From the minute Rodrigo Dorfman asked me, 18 months ago, if I wanted him to do a film on me and my work, I jumped with abandon into this way of explaining the complexity that my life has been, and possibly its merit. We worked for months, just the two of us and
Monsieur Contraste emerged. I was delighted early on by the shape that story was taking on screen, and that only got better over the months of fine tuning, but I was also keenly aware that I was too close to the subject, to the making, to fully trust my own judgement, and I could not even find really neutral third parties whose opinion would seem to be impartial. I guess none of this breaks much news.

It was therefore a true liberation to witness the vibration of the public during the premiere, and discover that the reaction was very much along the lines of what I had thought, and actually better. That reaction from the audience even materialized by nice sales at the traveling
Church of Photography that I had set in the main hall thanks to the wonderful spirit of the festival's organizers, and everybody knows that sales are the best compliment an artist can get. José Arthur used to say "the only one that matters."

Monsieur Contraste is shown in your town or on your TV, feel free to watch the trailer as often as you wish.

All in all,
Cucalorus was a delightful experience, a low key event, exempt of the snobbism, red carpets and VIP segregation which is often present in the celebrations of the film industry. Cucalorus takes place in Wilmington, North Carolina, a charming little coastal town which until the beginning of the 20th Century was North Carolina's largest town. There is spanish moss here and a definite feel of the Old South. Nowadays, Wilmington is the third largest production area for film and tv in the U.S., hence the popularity of the film festival in town and the hordes of movie goers and film afficionados.

Among the films I saw was
A Royal Affair, which left me shaken and I have not recovered yet. I hope I never do. This is an historic film about a true story of revolution and romance. It is gripping, elating, revolting, shows how revolutionary ideas (here the enlightenment) progress, and can be stopped. It makes one feel thankful for living in a society that mostly has overcome the situations and dominant philosophy prevalent at the time of the film's story, and it helps understand better why the intellectual evolution is still so slow. See it by all means, this is oscar material.

I knew Wilmington already, had been there numerous times, but had never "lived" in it like I had the opportunity to do thanks to the festival. I will never forget this experience. Wilmington has forever a sweet spot in my heart.

  • Eizo, the manufacturer of the world's best monitors just published an interview of Monsieur Contraste. Read it here.

Here is the press about this:

  • In Wilmington.
  • In the Film Industry.
  • In Durham
  • In Valence, my Home town in France:

Wilmington Cape Fear River


Dès la première minute, lorsque Rodrigo Dorfman me demanda il y a 18 mois, si je voulais participer à un film qu'il souhaitait faire sur mon travail, je me suis dévoué, corps et âme à sa réalisation. Nous avons travaillé pendant des mois, en tandem, dans les côtes, les pentes et les virages, débouchant éventuellement sur
Monsieur Contraste. Depuis les premières séquences j'étais agréablement surpris par la tournure de l'histoire, et cela n'alla qu'en s'améliorant, forcément. Mais à mon âge on a un montant d'heures au volant suffisant pour savoir, que s'il m'est normalement possible de prendre du recul quant à mon travail photographique pour le jauger assez précisément, cela m'était impossible pour ce film, de même qu'il était difficile aussi de trouver dans mon entourage, des spectateurs parfaitement neutres. Rien de nouveau j'imagine.

La première à Cucalorus me permit donc de prendre pour la première fois la mesure du public, et de vérifier qu'il réagissait mieux en fait que nous l'avions espéré. L'enthousiasme du public alla jusqu'å se concrétiser par des ventes de très bons niveaux à l'Eglise de la Photographie mobile que j'avais installée dans le Hall principal, grâce à la bienveillance des organisateurs du festival. Chacun sait que c'est là le meilleur compliment qui puisse être fait à un artiste, José Arthur disait même "
le seul qui compte."

En attendant la venue de
Monsieur Contraste dans votre ville ou sur votre télévision, vous pouvez voir, revoir et revoir encore la bande annonce.

Cucalorus est un merveilleux festival. dépourvu du snobisme, des tapis rouges et de l'ostentation souvent corollaire des célébrations de l'industrie cinématographique. Le festival a lieu à Wilmington en Caroline du Nord, une petite ville portuaire, qui jusqu'au début du 20ème siècle était la ville la plus importante de l'état. La végétation est subtropicale et l'on sent les réminiscences du Sud de l'ère coloniale. De nos jours Wilmington est par importance, le troisième lieu de production film et TV des Etats Unis, d'où la popularité du festival auprès de la population locale qui souvent directement ou non, gagne sa vie sur les plateaux de cinéma.

Parmi les films que j'ai vu, je recommande très particulièrement "
A Royall Affair" dont je ne me suis pas encore remis, et j'espère ne jamais l'être. Il s'agit d'un film historique au Danemark, une histoire vécue, d'amour et de révolution. Le film prend aux tripes, est bouleversant, révoltant et montre comment les idées nouvelles progressent et peuvent être stoppées. On en sort reconnaissant de ne pas vivre dans une société qui a triomphé de l'obscurantisme accablant l'époque montrée dans le film, tout en mesurant combien notre temps n'est pas fondamentalement différent sur le plan de l'architecture sociale et en comprenant pourquoi l'évolution intellectuelle et culturelle est si lente. A voir absolument, ce film devrait avoir un oscar.

J'étais déjà allé à Wilmington de nombreuses fois, mais n'y avais jamais séjourné. Je n'oublierai jamais ces quelques jours passés là bas, au parfum suave de l'automne près des anciennes rizières.

  • Eizo, le fabricant des meilleurs écrans informatiques au monde, vient de publier une interview de Monsieur Contraste que vous pouvez lire ici.

Voici la presse:

  • à Wilmington.
  • dans l'industrie cinématographique.
  • à Durham.
  • à Valence, la ville où j'ai grandi:

    Monsieur Contraste Poster

    Cucalorus_Monsieur Contraste Pass

    Cucalorus_Monsieur Contraste_MCe
    The Master of Ceremony introducing Monsieur Contraste.
    La Maîtresse de Cérémonie faisant l'introduction de Monsieur Contraste.

    Cucalorus_Monsieur Contraste

    Cucalorus_MC Dej_850px
    Photo by Rodrigo Dorfman. Lunch on Navy boat on the Cape Fear River.

    Cucalorus_Filmakers lunch
    Film makers lunch on nay boat on the Cape Fear River.
    Déjeuner pour les Festivaliers sur le bateau militaire du port de Wilmington.

    Cucalorus_Thalian Hall Theater
    Thalian Hall theater.

    Cucalorus_Film makers Lounge
    Film makers lounge

    Cucalorus_Monsieur Contraste_Church of Photography
    Traveling church of photography in Thalian Hall

    Cucalorus_White folks
    People I don't know who seem local.
    Inconnus qui semblent être de la région.


    In New York this Week

    ground zero
    Close to Epiphany


    If you go to
    Photo Plus Expo in New York this week, October 25, 26, 27, you will be able to see the photographs above displayed in the Museo booth. Museo is one of my sponsors, they manufacture "Portfolio Rag," which is in my mind the best hot press matte paper currently available on the market. That paper yields the crispest prints with the highest D Max and is what Monsieur Contraste needs.

    Eizo, another of my sponsors which is known as the manufacturer of the best monitors on the market, the ones used when precision is paramount, has acquired and will be using the photograph on the right as it exemplifies subtle colors on the edge of the gamut. Printing it is like being a color tightrope walker.

    Thank you to these firms for associating with art.

    Rockefeller, Manhattan
    Like Rockefeller


    Si vous avez le loisir d'aller à Photo PLus Expo cette semaine, 25, 26, et 27 Octobre, vous pourrez voir les photographies ci-dessus sur le stand de Museo. Museo est l'un de mes sponsors, et le fabricant de Portfolio Rag, à mon sens le meilleur papier mat lisse du marché. Ce papier autorise des tirages au rendu très tranchant enrichis de la plus haute densité maximale, ce dont Monsieur Contraste a besoin.

    Eizo, un autre de mes sponsors, fabricant des meilleurs écrans d'ordinateur au monde, ceux utilisés lorsque la plus grande précision est indispensable, a acquis deux tirages de Un Soir à Valensole, la photographie ci-dessous, car elle vogue sur des couleurs subtiles aux confins de la gamme chromatique, et la production de ces tirages est un exercice de funambule de la couleur.

    Merci à ces marques de s'associer à mon travail.

    lavande provence



    Occupy Wall Street Portfolio in Photo technique Magazine

    occupy wall street_Obama

    Discret. 26 Octobre 2011, Zuccotti Park, Manhattan.


    We bought our house 15 years ago. Two doors down lived a fellow and his wife. We eventually started to talk, and when we had our daughters, they became friends. During those years we have had countless dinners together and countless walks strategizing the political future of the nation.

    The fellow, Rodrigo Dorfman, turned out to be a filmmaker, and last June he asked if he could make a documentary about me. For years he had quietly observed me do my thing and had started to envision a story, a character. I respected a strategic delay of a few minutes but eventually gave him the only possible answer, and we filmed epically during the summer of 2011.

    Rodrigo and I had both lamented for years about the political apathy in America, why Americans seem- ingly never take it to the streets as in notably Latin countries, from France to Argentina. Consequently,
    when Occupy Wall Street exploded the status quo (although the movie was already in editing stage) we had to include our vision of the movement regardless of the impact on our timeline for submitting our film to festivals.
    I photograph a lot of different situations, from nature to protests, urban myths and political events. I shoot as much as possible with a Hasselblad 503 CX, unless it is indoors. That allows me to make prints up to 43 inches wide. Size matters: a photojournalistic style photograph that large is like a sledgehammer com- pared to a regular hammer. When I need to be lighter, faster or more intimate, I pick up the Leicas.

    The Leica M is the ultimate in comfort and elegance for reportage. It is quiet, quick and the lenses are super crisp. Ultimately the Leica is more conforming to the traditional “raw” feel of photojournalism, while a Has- selblad photograph, with its optical stylization of the out-of-focus and its crystalline resolution and square- ness, has a more sophisticated allure.

    For all its press coverage, it was difficult for me to know what to anticipate at OWS. Would the lack of light mandate the use of the Leicas? Surely there would be a need for the Blad, but who wants to haul that all day and have it in the way for little use? I am not good at compromising and therefore needed to decide on location.

    We adapted our traveling style to the 99 Percent motto and went up with an overnight bus. It would test our physical resilience and we arrived in Chinatown later than planned due to a mechanical failure of the bus. I ended up using the Hasselblad very little, although it produced a couple of extremely precious photographs. But on the whole, because of the low light level, the Leicas were technically required, as well as better suited to this rather unglamorous environment.
    For gear I typically have two Leica M6 TTL bodies with me: one with Ektar 100 film, and one with Ilford FP4 Plus film. I can hand hold to 1/15th, 1/8th if I have to, and I also use a Manfrotto monopod when needed. Except for the Hasselblad that I just carry on my shoulder, everything fits in pouches on my Think- tank pro speed belt, the only belt that stays at the right length even under stress. The Leicas fit nicely in Thinktank “Skin 50s.” This is the best and fastest way I can deal with my gear as well as last a whole day with this kind of load. I also have a beautiful Thinktank Airport Security rolling case when the full Hasselblad gear, including the shifting bodies, is needed.

    In places like OWS I am definitely happy to shoot film. Because of the larger dynamic range it can absorb (which there was huge) due to the difference between the light down low and the sky or the reflections of the glass of the buildings. My Hasselblad scanner can extract every detail on the negative, and all that has more resolution than the digital capture equivalent. It is more work for sure, but I also like the organic nature of the photographs. A little grain gives substance to an image, while no grain is “plastic looking.” I don’t do “faux grain.”

    I am a one-man orchestra. Apart from the raw materials, I do everything including mixing my own chemical formulas. I process my black and white films in PMK, the developer that should warrant a statue somewhere for its inventor Gordon Hutchings. I also process my own color, thanks to my JOBO processor that Greg Blank resurrected from the dead. The JOBO gives me the cleanest possible color negatives I have ever achieved. I proof scan everything with my Epson V750 and Silverfast Studio 8 (see the article in July/August 2010 photo technique).

    Coming up with oversized enlargements from negatives captured on the fly requires low blood pressure and low speed film. I use Noise Ninja soft- ware which is a must in color and in the stratospheric levels of enlargement ratios in black and white. I also use Perfect Resize from OnOne Software, without which I could not fully enlarge the Hasselblad negatives.

    The new keystone of my production is my Eizo ColorEdge CG 275 W monitor which gives me a lot of viewing real estate. It is a high precision device, with a built in calibration system that has resolved the color management issues that had plagued me since switching to Snow Leopard. I print most of my work on Museo Portfolio Rag, which gives me the crispest prints with the right amount of warmth and the highest Dmax I have found.

    Following the completion of Rodrigo Dorfman's film on my work, Monsieur Contraste, Photo technique magazine has published in its May/June issue 2012, a portfolio on my series on the historic Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti park, Downtown Manhattan.
    The article is in the left column and the pages of the magazine are inserted (click to enlarge). The article may be dowloaded in pdf format here.

    The entire Occupy Wall Street series may be viewed on this blog

    Greg Blank (my Jobo repairman) may be reached at 410-795-7734.


    Suite à la finalisation du film sur mon travail par Rodrigo :,
    Monsieur Contraste, le magazine américain Photo technique publie dans son numéro de Mai/Juin 2012, un portfolio sur ma série traitant de Occupy Wall Street,
    le site historique du mouvement qui a changé la façon dont l'Amérique ressent son establishment. L'article (en Anglais) est dans la colonne de gauche, et les pages du magazine sont insérées (cliquer pour agrandir). L'article peut être déchargé en format PDF ici.

    La série entière peut être vue dans ce blog,


    Twenty Years Ago

    Rodney King First Trial


    ON PAYE CONTENT: c'est le titre de cette photographie, dû au signe dans la vitrine "Ni chèque ni crédit," en d'autres termes "On paye comptant," dont j'ai modifié l'orthographe afin de jouer avec l'humeur des protagonistes.

    J'ai pris cette photo il y a 20 ans, en 1992, le jour (ou peu après) le premier verdict du procès qui vit l'acquittement des policiers impliqués, résultant en un soulèvement populaire à Los Angeles, dont le centre fut mis à feu et à sang suite au caractère révoltant de l'acquittement en question.

    Je visitais ma future épouse à Chapel Hill, et mon niveau en l'anglais à l'époque, ne me permettais pas de comprendre la radio ou la télévision. Voyageant de surcroît, je n'étais pas au courant des derniers évènements. C'est ainsi que je retournai chez ce coiffeur de Raleigh, chez lequel j'avais remarqué la veille une lumière saisissante vers 17:00. Le propriétaire me permis de prendre des photos, et c'est ainsi que celle-ci fut prise. Ce n'est que plus tard, parlant de mon expérience à Trisha, qu'elle mentionna les évènements de Los Angeles, sans doute à l'origine de la tension palpable dans cette photographie.

    J'en fis rapidement un tirage pour mon portfolio, mais ce n'est qu'en 2006, pour mon exposition "Life on Mars" que j'en fis un tirage d'exposition en 50 x 60. Ce tirage est très difficile dû à la différence de lumination dans le sujet. Avec le masque approprié, une infinité d'expositions, une harmonisation au ferrycyanure, je suis parvenu à faire quelques tirages qui maintiennent un excellent contraste, très dynamique, tout en préservant les détails requis dans les ombres et hautes lumières, tout cela dans un ton très chaud, ce qui est toujours difficile lorsque l'on souhaite un contraste tonique.

    J'ai un tirage parfait tiré sur Forte PolyWarmtone Fibre, un papier qui n'existe plus. C'est là un tirage exceptionnel aux qualités historiques peu courantes pour le collectionneur visionnaire. J'ai aussi une poignée de tirages excellents mais avec de petits défauts qui ne les rendent sans doutes pas rédhibitoires.
    Voir liste et prix.


    I took this photograph twenty years ago, a Friday of 1992, at 5:00 p.m. eastern time, in Raleigh, Wilmington Street, the day (or soon after) of the first Rodney King beating trial, the one in which the felon policemen were acquitted. Riots of earth quake magnitude ensued in L.A., which seems healthy.

    At the time I was visiting my love, who was then living in Chapel Hill. I had already started to like photographing America, as I was surprised by its funk and grit, while our European imagination assumes something more in line with Star Wars. Trisha worked two jobs, so in the evening I was often alone while she was waiting tables. I would then take her car and venture outside of the usual circle. That is how I ended up at that barbershop. The day before I had noticed the light there, around 5:00, flowing that 50’s decorum so Americana-like, but I was on the late side. I therefore arrived earlier the following day.

    The town was quiet, in those days Raleigh was somewhat sleepy anyway, but it did seem unusually calm, a little bit like the countryside before the storm, when the birds seem to bicker louder. In those days I could not understand the radio or TV in English, and was enjoying a news-free time outside of my own sphere. I had therefore no idea of what was going on, and stepped into the barbershop quite innocently. I asked the owner if I could take some photographs, he did not hesitate, and I proceeded with setting up my tripod. My subject was naturally going to be the chair by the front window, due to the light and that sign “No Checks, No Credit” which is at the origin of this photograph’s title.

    I wondered why the fellows in this photograph were so stern looking, but was not complaining as that added more depth than otherwise. I used a little flash to tame the light some, and before long I was on my way, thanking everybody, probably leaving the fellows in the shop laughing and deriding that clueless Frenchman.

    Back to France, I quickly made an 8x10 print for my portfolio, but only printed this exhibition size (21" tall) in 2006 for my show “Life on Mars, part I” at Through This Lens gallery in Durham. This was a very challenging print to make, notably due to the range of light, at the extreme, between the shadows and light blast on the white sleeve of the client’s shirt. With the appropriate mask, a litany of light passes and other techniques, I was able to produce a very dynamic print that still exhibits all the necessary details, on a very warm tone print.

    I only have one perfect print of this photograph. Printed on Forte Poly Warmtone Fiber, a paper that does not exist anymore. That is a very rare historic print, available for the visionary collector. I also have a handful of very good prints with slight defects that may not be deterrent.

    The title "On Paye Content" is a pun, paying with the same phonetic between "comptant" in French, which would apply to the fact of paying right now, referring to the sign "No Check, No Credit," while "Content" means happy. which the two fellows in the photograph do not seem to be.

    See prints list at the Church of Photography.

    Hasselblad Celebrates Monsieur Contraste



    On March 19, 2012, Hasselblad published an article, worldwide, on my work and the movie it Monsieur Contraste

    Le 19 Mars 2012, Hasselblad publia, diffusion mondiale, un article dont le sujet était mon immodeste travail et le film à son propos: Monsieur Contraste.


    Happy / Joyeux 2012

    Art of War

    Steve Jobs minus 30 percent


    Enjoy a year with a globe rotating as much as ever.

    J'espére que vous aimerez une année où le monde sera comme d'habitude en pleine évolution.


    Rocking for Discomfort

    Occupy Wall Street_On a Marvin Gaye Tune

    On a Marvin Gaye Tune.
    Zuccotti Park, October 28, 2011



    Occupy Wall Street is about changing the way people think, it goes in the exact opposite direction that was America’s track for the past 30 years, and so far people follow. That is a true revolution, one with the most modern strategy : when people think differently, things change, deeper and for longer than the over way around.

    I was lucky to be able to spend several days around Occupy Wall Street, in Zuccotti Park at the end of October, it was a true forum, a life laboratory where democracy was maybe not always pretty, but nevertheless at its best, as close as I can imagine of what it was in Athens, 2500 years ago. As the photographs below show, the creativity, the intensity of the reflection were astounding, and everyday would bring its own specific crop.

    It is now gone, and many claim that is for the best. I don’t know, it seems very bourgeois to condemn the mess all this looked like from above and the sidelines, while much worse is tolerated elsewhere provided that it does not challenge the status quo. At any rate it is gone, but it is far from dead. It hibernates, and will blossom in full force in the spring. You can take it to the bank that this election year will be under its spell.

    Occupy Wall Street_Class Warfare


    Occupy Wall Street_Down to Basic

    Open Fort

    Occupy Wall Street_Move it Move it

    Move it, Move it

    Occupy Wall Street_ Frozen Sensuality

    Frozen Sensuality

    Occupy Wall Street

    Le Cheval

    Occupy Wall Street_Televised Revolution

    Televised Revolution

    Occupy Wall Street_Forever Anonymous

    Forever Anonymous

    Occupy Wall Street_AhAh

    Ah Ah !

    Occupy Wall Street_Where to Go

    Where to Go

    Occupy Wall Street_No Token Change

    No Token Change

    Occupy Wall Street_Something Different

    Something Different

    Occupy Wall Street_Le Quidam

    Le Quidam

    Occupy Wall Street_Musical Refrain

    Musical Refrain

    Occupy Wall Street


    Occupy Wall Street_The Enforcers

    The Enforcers

    Occupy Wall Street_Mortgage Specialist

    Mortgage Specialist

    Occupy Wall Street_Discret


    Occupy Wall Street_Forum


    Occupy Wall Street_Bakunin Avenue

    Bakunin Avenue

    Occupy Wall Street_Born Again

    Born Again

    Occupy Wall Street_The News

    The News

    Occupy Wall Street_Troubling


    Occupy Wall Street_Wayne and Bess

    Wayne and Bess

    Occupy Wall Street_La Main dans le Sac

    La Main dans le Sac

    Occupy Wall Street_Thou Shall be Good Neighbors

    Thou Shall be Good Neighbors

    Occupy Wall Street_Twilight Flash

    Twilight Flash

    Occupy Wall Street_Accross



    La fonction de “Occupy Wall Street” est de changer le mode opérationnel de la pensée populaire. Le mouvement secoue la crasse, et part à fond de ballon dans la direction opposée de celle que les Etats Unis ont suivie depuis au-moins trente ans. Jusqu’à maintenant la population dans son ensemble, suit. Cela est une véritable révolution, une révolution à la stratégie parfaitement moderne : lorsque les gens pensent différemment, les choses changent plus facilement, mieux, et pour plus longtemps que si l’on impose un changement en espérant que les masses comprendront et s’adapteront. C’est un concept inverse à celui qui a prévalu historiquement de par le monde révolutionnaire universel.

    J’ai eu la chance de pouvoir visiter le site historique de “Occupy Wall Street” à New York fin Octobre. C’était un forum effervescent, un laboratoire démocratique vivant, pas toujours très joli, mais où la démocratie bouillonnait, près de son apogée, aussi près que je puis imaginer de l' Athènes d’il y a 2500 ans. Comme les photographes ci dessus le montrent, la créativité, l’intensité de la réflexion y étaient surprenantes, et chaque jour amenait une nouvelle moisson.

    Ce forum là n’est plus, et beaucoup se rassurent en disant que c’est mieux ainsi, même si il est un petit peu bourgeois de froncer le sourcil depuis ses hauteurs, à la vision contemplative d’une expérience parfois désordonnée, cafouilleuse et pas très bien mise, alors que l’on laisse filer sans histoire des situations bien pires mais qui ne clament pas la couverture des journaux ni ne remettent le statu quo en cause. Enfin, quoi qu’il en soit, “Occupy Wall Street” tel qu’il est né, c’est fini, mais l’animal est loin d’être mort. Il hiberne, et reviendra avec le printemps, plus pétillant que jamais, et vous pouvez parier gros que les élections Américaines danseront au son de sa musique.


    The Best Proofing Workflow


    page 3

    This article describes the best way I know, to proof negatives in the digital era. It uses a very reliable, reasonably inexpensive canner, the Epson V750, equipped with special anti newton glass and the Studio version of Silverfast software. With that one may get excellent FULL FRAME proof scans with minimal effort.

    The pages of the article are above, click to enlarge. You may download the article in PDF format,

    Page 2

    Page 4

    Cet article décrit la meilleure façon que je connaisse de scanner des négatifs dans l'ère digitale. Cette méthode requiert un scanner relativement bon marché, le Epson V750, équipé de verres spéciaux, anti-newton, et de la version Studio du logiciel Silverfast. Avec tout cela, il devient relativement aisé d'obtenir des scans PLEIN FORMAT de vos négatifs/

    Les pages de l'article sont ci-dessus, cliquer pour agrandir. L'article peut être décharger en format PDF


    Willy Ronis est Mort

    Les Rencontres d'Arles, Willy Ronis Rétrospective, 17 Juillet 2009

    Willy Ronis Retrospective at the Rencontres d'Arles, July 17, 2009


    Ceci est dédié à mes étudiants de l”I.A.U. de l'été 2009, comme un ultime exemple que ce que nous avons abordé, y compris dans l’histoire de la photographie, se retrouve dans la pratique:

    Willy Ronis est mort. 99 ans. Il était le quasi éternel survivant, le dernier des Mohicans de cette tribu de l’âge d’or de la photographie, celle des années 50-60, quand Cartier-Bresson menait le bal, et que la photo humaniste dont l’épicentre semblait être Paris offrait au monde une alternative à l’école Américaine. Un style que Lartigue avait sans doutes inspiré, cette photo humaniste qui semble être tellement ce pour quoi la photographie fut inventée. Une photographie empreinte de réalisme mais aussi de poésie et d'esthétique, tendant sans cesse vers la définition que Cartier-Bresson en avait donnée : “
    pour moi la photographie c’est l’alliage de la géométrie et de l’émotion.

    Je ne sais qui inspira l’autre, ou s’il s’agit d’un synchronisme inévitable de penseurs voisins, mais Ronis avait offert sa propre variation à la définition de Carier-Bresson: “La belle image, c’est une géométrie modulée par le coeur.” Il est souvent difficile de différencier certaines photos de Ronis de celles de Cartier-Bresson, si ce n’est que ce dernier en a fait davantage au sommet, et s’est aussi cantonné dans un style plus monolithique. Pour un aperçu de l'oeuvre de Willy Ronis, cliquer ici.

    Les Rencontres d’Arles, qui se complaisent le plus souvent dans les errances communes à l’art moderne du moment, avaient donné à Ronis une rétrospective cette année, une bouffée d’air frais encore que réchauffé, pour nous autres les spectateurs. Il est mort le 12 Septembre, un jour avant la fin de l’exposition. Avec sa disparition s’en est fini, ils sont tous à se taper le portrait entre eux, dans un paradis improbable pour virtuoses de la gâchette photographique : Doisneau, Carter-Bresson, Boubat, Ronis etc... Ils nous laissent à un monde où l’establishment désormais privilégie les Richard Prince de tous acabits
    (voir Carambouille au Guggenheim ).

    Pour ma part, alors que mon travail évolue souvent vers une sémantique plus radicalement moderne, je suis content de conserver, lorsque pertinent, une filiation avec ces grands messieurs de la photographie.
    Par exemple, Doisneau et son "Baiser de l’Hôtel de Ville" est évidemment à la source de la photographie sur le même thème qui me fut offerte à la Palette, rue de Seine, en Mars 1991, et que j'appelle "Des Amants dans mon Café."

    Des Amants dans mon Café. Paris, Mars 1991

    De la même façon, les fameux “Amoureux de la Colonne bastille” de Ronis, sont bien sûr réincarnés ici dans “Le Démon sur la Baie des Anges.L’art consiste souvent à faire du neuf avec du vieux, une adaptation en quelques sorte de la loi de Lavoisier: “Rien ne se perd, rien ne se crée, tout se transforme” et peut-être les quatre photos mentionnées ici participent-elles de cette évolution.

    Le Démon sur la Baie des Anges. Nice, Juin 2001

    C’est comme dans la chanson de Trénet:

    Longtemps longtemps longtemps,
    après que les poètes ont disparu,
    leurs chansons, courent encore dans les rues..


    This is dedicated to my students at I.A.U in Aix en Provence of summer 2009. Maybe it will help them see how what we have touched on, even in History of Photography, is related to actual real life.

    Willy Ronis is dead, he was 99. He was the quintessential survivor, seemingly eternal, the last of the mohicans of that tribe from the 50's and 60's when Henri Cartier-Bresson was leading the crew. This is when the "humanist style," as it came to be called, and whose epicenter seemed to be in Paris, offered the world an alternative to the American school of photography. Jacques-Henri Lartigue, the early 20th Century photographer, probably inspired this style which appeared so much to be what photography had been invented for-a photography rooted in realism, but also loaded with poetry and aestheticism, endlessly aiming at Cartier-Bresson's definition of photography as: "
    the alloy of geometry and emotion."

    I do not know who inspired whom, or if this is a case of great spirits meeting each other as should have been expected, but Ronis offered his own beautiful definition: "
    A fine image is geometry shaped by the heart." It is often difficult to tell who of Ronis or Cartier-Bresson did this or that photograph. They often photographed alike, except that Cartier-Bresson was more consistently at the top, and more monolithic as well. You may have an overlook at Willy Ronis' work here.

    This year, the
    Rencontres d'Arles, which usually likes to comply with the seemingly necessary wanders of today's modern art lack of wonders, gave Ronis a retrospective. For us mortals normally presented with a plethora of pseudo destined to oblivion, this was a healthy breath of timelessness. Ronis died on September 12, one day before the end of the show. With his passing we reach the end. They are all dead: Doisneau, Boubat, Cartier-Bresson, Ronis. They now can shoot each other all day in the improbable paradise for virtuosos of the shutter release. They left us in a world where the art establishment now favors the likes of Richard Prince (see Carambouille au Guggenheim ).

    While my work evolves following a semantic path reflective of modernity, I am proud to keep as well, when relevant, a connection with the aforementioned lords of photography. For instance, Doisneau and his "
    Baiser de l'Hôtel de Ville" is obviously at the source of my "Des Amants dans mon Café." And the famous Ronis "Amoureux de la Colonne Bastille" was clearly in my mind when shooting "Le Démon sur la Baie des Anges." Lavoisier once claimed "nothing gets lost, nothing gets created, all is a product of transformation." Indeed Art is a continuum in constant evolution, and maybe these four photographs participate in that.

    As Charles Trenet sings:

    "A long time, a long time, a long time,
    after poets have disappeared,
    their songs still run in the streets..