The day I left Paris left time enough for coffee and a croissant with a loved one, and then a last trip to a Museum that had been closed til Weds.
I had 2 more Metro transfers left, 2 hours before the taxi would come, and knew it took 7 mins to get to the place. Done.
The Maison Europeenne de la Photographie.
Set back off the street, easily found from the Saint Paul stop of the Metro, this building houses not only some of the best photography exhibits,but also a library unparalleled for research.
[photopress:00315gx9.jpeg,full,centered]Â© Sabine Weiss
This year, we saw a huge body of work from a photographer that has been a part of one of the most famous photo agencies ever, the Rapho agency since 1953,(see below)*
Swiss photographer Sabine Weiss, has been working for many years in Paris and helped define the “humanist” style of photography, already well defined by Willy Ronis and Henri Cartier-Bresson.
I can’t tell you how her images affected me so profoundly, as the exhibit opened with her work with light, shadow, and fog. Her loosely reined touch of reality, coupled with the distance of black and white, created images that told a longer story than the still image presented. And the curators included enough photographs in that vein to give you a sense of her working style and exploration of the light.
[photopress:101207_rsf02.jpg,full,centered]Â© Sabine Weiss
[photopress:Weiss_07.jpg,full,centered] Â© Sabine Weiss
Then it was her approach with children. The intimacy and trust she garnished from each situation appeared pure and loving, the faces she captured, not only let you see the joy of childhood, but let that joy come through in a variety of circumstances. In one series she photographed a group of kids riding makeshift wooden go-carts, and then returns to add a portrait of a single participant.
The beauty that I found here was also in the curating of the show. There seemed to be a certain willingness to show all and, all was brilliant. Not content to just frame a single shot from a series, but the images from the same day perhaps, that continued to tell the story and revealed Sabine Weiss’s thought process.
Yes, there was a plexiglass case with some of her commercial work, which we were happy to see. Not that it is directly reflected her style always, but paid homage to her skills. She did start out as an assistant to fashion photographer Willy Maywald in the late 1940s, so she was well trained in studio lighting techniques. This experience paradoxically seemed to helped her to understand the full potential of natural light to convey emotion.
True, she is an icon. But this was a discovery to me, an uninformed photographer from the US.. And the effect of her work has stayed with me.
An interesting note is that the style of working on exhibit here, or whether it’s Henri Cartier-Bresson, or Mr. Ronis, is being seriously curtailed in France. The privacy laws are very strict for “street shooting”. If there are less than 9 people in the shot, you must have a release from all of them. You may have heard a bit about the privacy laws when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were living in the South, and the paps were kept at bay.
Another note: Sabine Weiss was included in the Family of Man exhibit and resultant book with 3 images.
So, after seeing that exhibit, we caught one more in the Maison, which we’ll discuss at another time.
It was a quick visit, relatively, but a rich one. All we really want to do is let you know about her, if you didn’t already, and seek out her photographs. You’ll be well rewarded.
When we see so many images in a short amount of time, which is what will happen at any art fair, the beautiful thing is when the best just separates itself from the rest.
We do suggest that you never stop checking out all that is available, because, heck, you just don’t know what you’ll find.
Like Sabine Weiss.
*Located in the heart of Paris, RAPHO is one of the oldest photographic press agencies. It is famous for the diversity and renown of its photographers and represents some of the best-known classic, humanistic photographers, but also a team of photo-journalists and contemporary photographers published world-wide and who have been honored by the most prestigious photographic prizes. RAPHO is the agency of tradition and modernity. It was established in 1933 by Charles Rado, a Hungarian immigrant. In December 2000, RAPHO joined the Hachette Filipacchi Photos Group.