One of the good surprises at the opening of the new exhibition at Jeu de Paume was to meet Frank Horvat‘s daughter, Fiammetta, who is in charge of his archives and runs his studio. I knew the photographer (1928-2020) well in the 1980’s when he worked for Vogue Hommes and he had kept his charm and extreme simplicity, even though he had been, in the earlier years, the most successful and sought after fashion photographer. This is what the show “Frank Horvat, Paris, le Monde, la Mode” at Musée du Jeu de Paume is all about, with 150 prints of the 1950’s and 1960’s, when Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Vogue and Jardin des Modes, all competed to get him. And the show, which was suggested by photographer Sabine Weiss, a great friend of his, also includes his early pictures abroad. It is curated by Virginie Chardin and most pictures (vintage prints and modern ones) come from his studio in Boulogne.
What is most original in his fashion pictures is how he included the models in Parisian or Roman street scenes. This was probably influenced by the fact that when he started in Paris, he wanted to join the Magnum agency and was an admirer of Henri Cartier Bresson’s style of the immediate. He balanced for al long time between fashion and reportage and never wanted to have to choose. He was born in Italy as Francisco Horvat, in a Jewish family, his father was a Hungarian physician and his mother an Austrian psychiatrist. They first moved to Lugano, Switzerland, when fascism made their life impossible and he later settled in Paris, in 1955, after having lived in Pakistan, India, New York and London. He spoke many languages and was completely at ease with everyone.
A series of Couture photos in 1962, include famous writers or actors with the models. They were shot in Italy for Harper’s Bazaar. China Machado with Alberto Moravia, Deborah Dixon with Luigi Barzini or Marcello Mastroianni, Iris Bianchi with Agnès Varda, are all mesmerizing shots. But he also had fun shooting Rosalind Watkins in Yorkshire with school kids and a spectacular bride-to-be in Kent with her veil flying away. In 1962, he photographed girls in Pigalle at the Sphinx before taking an eight city tour around the world for the German magazine REVUE, in Cairo, Calcutta, Sydney, Hong Kong, Tokyo the US and Latin America and Dakar, Senegal. One oF the treasures of this series is a girl on the beach in Rio.
The studio in Boulogne from which his daughter manages the archives is extremely moving. It is set in a garden just behind the house where he raised his children. He lived there until he died in October 2020. His cat Rodolphe is still around and hundreds of photographs hang in the basement gallery. On the top floor, the large empty space serves as an exhibition area for young photographers. At the moment, it is Baptiste Robichon, who won the Camera Clara Prize 2022. Fiammetta, his youngest child with an Italian wife, came after the boys. She worked with him at the end of his life, to classify his archives, after a career in the theatre in London.
Upstairs at Jeu de Paume, Dutch photographer Johan van der Keuken (193!-2001) shows “The Rhythm of images” , a mix of photographs and films curated by Birgit Donker and Grace Wong-Si-Kwie from the Nederlands fotomuseum located on the harbor in Rotterdam. He studied in Paris at IDHEC and caught beautiful street scenes. His photography served as a political and social fight and he uses windows as a frame for his art.
His pictures are linear and mostly in black in white and all the films shown here are worth watching since he made them along Chris Marker and Jean Luc Godard.
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