I had never heard of German photographer Albert Renger-Patzsch (1897-1966), who had a fabulous career in Germany and in America but for some obscure reason, remained fairly unknown in France. The founder of objectivity in photography and one of the promoters of photography as modern art, he was brought to Musée du Jeu de Paume in the Tuileries by Portuguese professor Sergio Mah.
As soon as you enter the exhibition of 154 photographs, you realize how strong plants, industrial monuments and rocks are in the eyes of this superb photographer. The works came mostly from Germany. At the beginning of his professional life, he devoted himself to shooting orchids for a book, « The world of Plants ». He then photographed fishermen in Frise on the North coast of Germany, for the book « Die Haligen » and industrial tools for « Die Welt is schön ».
There are many different themes in the show and everyone in the public can choose his own favorite pictures. I was particularly moved by his trees in the snow or at spring. There is a definite rigor in each picture and the black and white contrasts are so perfect in the prints that one feels almost intimidated by the strict discipline that Renger Patzsch puts in every frame.
During the war, he photographed the Atlantic wall in Brittany and Normandy for the German military and started photographing landscape. But his career remained mostly German.
His photos are now in the collections of the Getty and MoMA, at the Pompidou center also. The show at Musée du Jeu de paume is particularly complete.
Downstairs, a video by American artist Steffani Jemison, shows minister Susan Webb in her Memorial Baptist temple of Harlem. The minister currently puts white make up on and uses mime to interpret texts drawn from the Bible.
After studying in a catholic school in Cincinnati, Steffani Jemison, who was born in Berkeley, California, became interested in the transmission of religion. Her work « Sensus Plenior » is shown in the screening room downstairs.
(Jeu de Paume, Place de la Concorde, until 21-1-2018)
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