A double bill at Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson starts Paris photo week

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Friday night was a major evening at Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson rue des Archives, when privileged guests could discover the new premises after two years of renovation and with two exhibitions. Jan Groover, the long lost American photographer who loved France, on the main floor, and downstairs, in the new vaulted gallery, “Henri Cartier-Bresson /Martin Parr, the Reconciliation”. The reason everyone was there, was to the celebrate Tatyana Franck, 38, who was honored by Laurence des Cars, President of the Louvre with a medal of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres. The crowd was chic and young, many Swiss collectors had made the trip from Geneva, Lausanne and Gstaad, and since Tatyana now runs the FIAF (French Institute Alliance Française) in New York, members of the board were there as well as her predecessor Marie-Monique Steckel, seated in the front row. The atmosphere was friendly and Pol Roger champagne flowed.

Jan Groover, Untitled, 1975, Gelatin silver print, Collection Sylviane de Decker

The Jan Groover exhibition allowed the French public to discover a fairly unknown great woman photographer (1943-2012), first through early pictures of houses in the 1970’s, when she switched from painting to photography, then of black and white still lifes and portraits.  Disillusioned by George H.W. Bush’s politics, she left New York in 1991, a few years after MoMA held a retrospective of her work and settled with her husband, the abstract painter Bruce Boice, in Dordogne at Montpon-Ménestérol. She was then represented by Sylviane de Decker, who lent some rare color photographs and testified to how wonderful an artist and a friend she was.

Jan Groover, Untitled, ca 1977, Chromogenic print

A short film “Jan Groover, an intimate portrait” where Tatyana Franck interviews her husband in his studio, was produced for Photo Elysée, Lausanne, of which she was the director for seven years. He gave all her personal archives to the Swiss museum in 2017 and this was the occasion of a large exhibition of her work in the fall of 2021. The show at FHCB is a selected version  and it is curated by Agnès Sire.  I particularly liked her black and white still lives and portraits including one of legendary galerist Ileana Sonnabend (Leo Castelli’s wife) in 1981. Bruce Boice describes his wife’s passion for photographing kitchen utensils and pans in the 1980’s and is particularly moving.

Jan Groover, Untitled, 1979, Platinum-Palladium print, one of the Tabletops Still Lifes

Downstairs in the new space, a fairly chlostrophobic vaulted cellar, Martin Parr’s colorful prints hang along Henri Cartier-Bresson’s black and white photos. When the young British photographer applied to become a member of Magnum in 1989, HCB was opposed to his candidacy. And it is thanks to his wife, Martine Franck (Tatyana’s aunt), who organized a lunch between the two artists, that they were reconciled. HCB who did not like color photographs admitted that Parr was a nice person and he could join in 1994.

Martin Parr, Shoe factory Rushden 2016, Building society office, Bristol, Engineering firm, 2011, Auto call center, Surrey, 2001

I love Martin Parr’s ironical pictures of British society, and was puzzled by the accumulation of small and large formats in a fairly small space. HCB’s black and white small photos hang on a yellow wall facing them. It does not work at all…

Martin Parr, The British

While greeting her many friends, Tatyana took the time to tour Laurence des Cars, the first woman to become President of the Louvre,  around the new galleries and discuss her uncle, Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work. The speeches were very impressive and Tatyana thanked her many girlfriends Esther de Moustier, Prune Nourry, etc.  for being present. She thanked Martine Franck for making her a member of the board of Fondation HCB at 18, and her parents, art dealer Eric Franck for introducing her to les “Arts”, her mother Dominique Rossignol for teaching her “les Lettres”, litterature and history and her grandfather Philippe who ran Editions Denoël from 1955 to 1971.

Tatyana with Laurence des Cars in the HCB show

Her son Ulysse was also in the front row wearing an impeccable tweed blue English coat. Tatyana has had an impressive career already, running the Claude Picasso collection at the age of 20, and becoming the head of Photo Elysée in Lausanne at 30. As des Cars reminded us she took part in the world ski championships and she mentioned the importance of physical effort and challenges in her life. The main theme of her speech was Audace: audacity. In her own choices of career but also among all the people who dared hire her even though she was so young.

Henri Cartier-Bresson “The English” is the cover for the catalog published by Vera Michalski

Last March, she took up the new challenge of running FIAF in New York, which offers French classes, lectures, films, conferences and exhibitions. The 30 th gala “Trophée des Arts”  is taking place at the Plaza Hotel in New York on November 15, just after the festival “Crossing the line” ended. François Curiel will be auctioning the prizes. Tatyana lives at a 100 km an hour, and remains kind and beautiful. How does she do it?

The exhibitions at Fondation HCB last until February 12. Paris Photo starts on Thursday to Sunday at Grand Palais Ephémère.

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