The Beauty of Lines. Masterpieces from the Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla collection at Musée de l’Elysée Lausanne, January 31 – May 6, 2018

“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

Abelardo Morell, Book with Wavy Pages, 2001 © Abelardo Morell, Courtesy of the artist and Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York and Zurich

Ayline Olukman, At Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez’s place © Ayline Olukman

Cig Harvey, The Pale Yellow Cadillac, Sadie, Portland, Maine, 2010 © Cig Harvey

Laurent Elie Badessi, Man’s Back, Horse’s Back, Camargue, France, 1994 © Laurent Elie Badessi

Walker Evans, Ossining, People in Summer, NY State Town, 1931 © Walker Evans Archive, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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.