“The exhibition presents a selection of masterpieces from the history of photography, part of the collection of Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla. Based in New York, it includes over 1500 original prints by some of the greatest photographers of the 20th and 21st centuries. Through visual confrontations, the visitor is invited to experience the power of the photographic line through these sublime works. The photographs by Bérénice Abbott, Eugène Atget, Robert Adams, Walker Evans, Rineke Dijkstra, Man Ray and Lee Friedlander, among others, thus resonate, beyond their historical temporality and geographic considerations, by their formal correspondences.
Throughout history, photographers have always oscillated between two extremes: the mimetic illusion of reality and the enhancement of the esthetic qualities of the image. Whether it be ‘instantaneous lines’, according to the expression of Henri Cartier-Bresson, rational lines inspired from New Topographics, or the diversity of the curved lines of the human body, the line structures and sometimes reinvents the real – to the point of abstraction.
In the case of photography, spectators, even the most discriminating, often first observe the world that they are presented with. They scrutinize the face or the landscape, they marvel at the details, the fashionable clothes, the expressions on the children’s faces. In other words, they can forget that they are actually looking at a piece of paper, as flat as a page in a book or a drawing. Fascinated by the mimetic illusion, they might not even see the lines – straight, curved, oblique – that actually form the basis of the photographic composition.” — Musée de l’Elysée
Exhibition curators: Tatyana Franck, director, Musée de l’Elysée, Pauline Martin, curator, Musée de l’Elysée, assisted by Emilie Delcambre-Hirsch, assistant in the Exhibitions Department.
Images courtesy Musée de l’Elysée.