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Happy New Year / Meilleurs Voeux 2021

Destination et Destinée


Let's see how far we can go from where we are, toward were we were once upon a time, when we were about to go further. I think we can do it, I am optimistic.

Happy New Year, all my very best wishes for the road.


Voyons jusqu'où nous pouvons aller, d'où nous sommes, et en direction d'où nous étions, il y a quelques temps, lorsque nous nous apprêtions à aller de l'avant. Je suis optimiste, je crois que nous pouvons le faire.

Meilleurs Voeux, avec mes meilleurs souhaits pour vous et votre chemin.


Destination and Destiny

I have a soft spot for this photograph, which it is not as mundane as it seems at first glance. Everything in this photograph is where it should be, which does not happen everyday. In essence it is like a Hollywood scene, and actually it reminds me of the opening scene of Jacques Demi’s cult movie “Les Demoiselles de Rochefort,” the best musical comedy ever, starring Catherine Deneuve, Françoise Dorléac (her sister who brought her to cinema, and died a few months after finishing this film. This is the only film in which they both star), Gene Kelly, George Shakiris and many others whose names you may not know, but are legends of French cinema. I cry just thinking of all of them.

Here, like in a movie scene, all the extras are doing their part: the guy getting of the boat, the cyclists on both sides of the water, the car on the bridge, all in support of the star: the canal. It is unclear where that canal goes, seemingly endlessly, tempting a departure for an unknown destination, quite suiting these days when we don’t know where we are going. In parallel, it is difficult to locate even where we are, except that people are moving in all kind of directions in that place. It is a hub lost in the middle of unknown, in borderline improbable territories. All this conspire to the surreal nature of this photograph with a subliminal parallel to our current situation.


Happy New Year / Meilleurs Voeux 2017

Au Large.


Let's see how far we can go.

All my very best wishes.


Voyons jusqu'où nous irons sur l'embarcation du moment.

Avec mes meilleurs souhaits pour vous sur la votre.


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.