At Bibliothèque Nationale, photographs are in black and white and in color

parisdiaPhotography1 Comment

Almudena Romero, Large scale collage II, The Act of Producing, 2022, photo printed on Taro leaves and drowned in a bloc of biological resine, loan of gallery Fisheye, Paris

It is a season rich in discoveries that BnF has prepared for us from their photo department. Héloise Conésa, in charge of contemporary photography, curated a courageous exhibition on metamorphosis: “Epreuves de la Matière” or materiality of photography today. Will images disappear with numeric art?  How do young artists use different means for manipulating the original shots? Through 200 photographers we learn all about photograms and prints on vegetal support or hybrid images. I knew very few of these artists except for the super famous like Sigmar Polke, Thomas Ruff, Patrick Tosani, Stéphane Couturier or Oscar Muñoz… From the hardly visible prints by Rossella Belluschi to  “Stardust” by Amy Friend and Renato d’Agostin‘s “Harmony of Chaos”, you learn a lot and feel like you are wandering through the alleys of Paris Photo. A very thrilling experience in a library…

Jean Luc Tartarin, Série « Re-prendre – Fleurs », 2018 BnF, Print and photography
© Jean-Luc Tartarin, 2018

All the titles of the different sections are super intellectual and I always feel uncomfortable with having to think too much about what I see. But when Heloïse Cornésa started explaining that Vittoria Gerardi‘s picture was pink at first, now mauve and would soon be dark, I started getting interested. In her work “Odeon” from the series Pompei, she uses plaster on the picture of a series of  steps to fix the image. Mixing different natural ingredients to influence the life of the picture, the artists put more importance on the support that on the topic. Rosella Bellusci’s white photo is almost non visible, Lisa Sartorio‘s “Gysophil Panicula” is added on with threads.

Heloïse Conésa explains how this picture by Vittoria Gerardi, “Aletegrafia” changes color with time and will eventually become totally dark

Another almost invisible work is Laurent Lafolie‘s mobile “Missingu”,  made of prints on (transparent) kozo paper held together by a nylon thread. You need a dark background to see the photos. Nest to it, I loved the fragility and fairy quality of Canadian artist Amy Friend‘s “Isolde & Are we Stardust”, a perforated old print lit from the back.

Amy Friend, Isolde & Are we Stardust, 2012-2016

Next door, the very large show of 150 years of black and white treasures from BnF was conceived first in the spring of 2020. Twice postponed by COVID, it is now presented in the smaller gallery of Bnf. There are three hundred photographs by Nadar, Man Ray, Gustave Le Gray, Ansel Adams, Willy Ronis, Helmut Newton, presented under different themes like the “White page”, “Shade and light”, “Contrast”,  “Black magic”, Aiming for contrast”… There are amazing finds in the collection like the Bisson brothers views of mountain climbing, this picture as child  of Cléo de Mérode, 1875-1966, the famous dancer and artists model, Albert Giordan’s “Hanger” from 1980, Paul Strand , Michale Kenna, and Yoichi Midorikawa’s Japanese Interior Sea. Graciela Iturbide, Frank Horvat, Edward Weston, and even Valérie Belin are amazing.

Goplo, Cléo de Mérode as a child, 1886

An early picture (1977) by Martin Parr who mostly shoots color, Marc Riboud, John Coplans, Edouard Boubat in the Luxembourg gardens under the first snow, it is an aesthetical festival.  The huge collection of 7 million prints by 10 000 photographers is well represented and very International. I loved Ilse Bing‘s decorated Eiffel Tower in 1934. Two pictures by Diane Arbus, representing twins and triplets in the 1960’s, are irresistible. These two shows are very complementary and incredibly pleasing to the eye… All the pictures belong to the BnF whether they were given by the artist or acquired.

Exhibitions until February 4, at BnF

Share this Post

One Comment on “At Bibliothèque Nationale, photographs are in black and white and in color”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *