Jacques Henri Lartigue: his works in colour


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.

  2. “Madame Charles Samuel. Rouzat, July 1914.”

  3. “Bibi at the Eden Roc restaurant. Cap d'Antibes, May 1920.”

    Bibi, whose real name was Madeleine Messager, was the photographer’s first wife, whom he divorced in 1931.

  4. “Bibi. Paris, January 1921.” 

  5. “Florette. Vence, May 1954.”

    Florette was Lartigue's third wife, with whom he lived almost 50 years, photographed here in Vence on the French Riviera.

  6. “Florette at the beach of the Carlton. Cannes, July 1956.”

  7. “Beausoleil, 1958.”

    Beausoleil is a municipality on the French Riviera, close to Monaco.

  8. “Florette. Piozzo, 1960.” 

    The picture, shot in Piozzo in north-west Italy, was taken two years before the couple sailed to the US, a voyage which would indirectly lead to the MoMA exhibition in 1963.

  9. “Sylvana Empain. Juan-les-Pins, August 1961.”

  10. “Fanny Ardant. Paris, June 1983.”

    This photo of French actress Fanny Ardent was taken just three years before the death of Lartigue in September 1986 at the age of 92.  

    Jacques Henri Lartigue
    La vie en couleurs
    Jusqu'au 18 février 2018
    Campredon Centre d'art
    20, rue du Docteur-Tallet
    L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (84054)

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