Jacques Henri Lartigue: his works in colour

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Jacques Henri Lartigue (1894-1986) reached fame as a photographer late in life, beginning with his first exhibition that was presented at the New York Museum of Modern Art, the MOMA, in 1963 when he was aged 69. Later that year, US magazine Life published a series of his photos in the same edition reporting the assassination of president John F. Kennedy. That propelled him to overnight celebrity, and he became widely recognised as one of the foremost photographers of the 20th century.

Lartigue, who had in fact spent much of his adult life as a painter, developed his interest and skills in photography after receiving his first camera at the age of eight, and by the end of his life he had shot a total of about 100,000 photos, capturing a wide variety of subjects, from sporting events and the early years of aviation, to celebrities and anonymous figures, charting the history of the 20th century through everyday life and momentous occasions. Much of his known work, and notably that which revealed him at MoMA, was in black and white, but he produced stunning colour photography during two periods of his life; as a young adult using the Autochrome process developed by the Lumière brothers in 1903, and later, as of 1949, using colour film with his Leica.

The Campredon Art Centre in the southern French town of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is showcasing almost 100 works from Lartigue's singularly beautiful colour photography in an exhibition now open until February 18th 2018 (see details bottom of page), examples of which Mediapart presents here, with translations of the original captions Lartigue gave them.

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  1. “My cousin Simone Roussel on my two-wheel bob. Rouzat, September 1913.”

    Rouzat, a village in central France, is where Lartigue's father owned a château.

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