Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jacques-Henri Lartigue, The choice of happiness


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The choice of happiness © Jacques Henri Lartigue

Via La Lettre de la Photographie

Forma, the Foundation of photography in Milan presents an exhibition of photographs by Jacques-Henri Lartigue, one of photography’s precocious prodigies, a genial enthusiast and a professional of happiness.

Jacques-Henri Lartigue achieved fame during the sixties, on the threshold of his eight decade, when his photographs reached the spaces of the MOMA in New York.

He was born into a wealthy French bourgeois family at the beginning of the twentieth century. From an early age the young Lartigue began to capture the romance of his family life in images, images seen through the eyes of a child, full of wonder and laughter. From then on, this ‘boy’ who spent his long life without ever having to worry about making ends meet, would manage to create images of infinite poetry and rare grace, thanks to his spontaneity and intimacy and a magic that still enchants us today.

Together with his diary, photography was Lartigue’s record of his experience and the things he wished to experience; an attempt to find happiness for himself and his charmed little world, happiness that might last for ever. Thus, every day he would collect amazing images with his camera, waterfalls and fountains, happy friends, beautiful smiling women, fluttering dresses, car races, seaside outings, fragments of carefree joy, wishing, with aching nostalgia, that that day might never end.

From 5 October, the exhibition will be further enriched with select pages from the great photographer’s diary and his albums of large photographs: JH Lartigue. Diary in Images.


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Jacques Lartigue was born in Courbevoie, in France, on 13 June 1894. At the age of six he took his first photographs using his father’s camera and began writing a diary which he continued to keep throughout his life.

From 1904 he began to photograph his childhood experiences, family games and then the beginnings of aviation and the first automobiles, the “beauties of the Bois de Bouologne” and social and sporting events. As a curious amateur he experimented with all the available photographic techniques. As a tireless collector of the moments of his own life, he took several thousand photographs which he diligently gathered in his large albums. It would appear, however, that this was not his vocation, instead, he wanted painting to be his profession. He met several artists, such as Sacha Guitry, Kees van Dongen, Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau. As a film enthusiast he photographed the sets of various films by Jacques Feyder, Abel Gance, Robert Bresson, Fran├žois Truffaut and Federico Fellini.

It was the great exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the publication of an important photo portfolio in Life, which earned Jacques Lartigue, at the age of 69, a place among the great photographers. Adding his father’s name to his own he became Jacques Henri Lartigue, and three years later his first book Album de Famille, and later Instants de ma Vie (designed by Richard Avedon), brought him worldwide recognition and appreciation. Lartigue died in Nice on 12 September 1986.

Emiliana Tedesco
The choice of happiness
From September 23 to November 20, 2011
Fondazione FORMA per la Fotografia
Piazza Tito Lucrezio Caro 1
20136 Milano
02.58118067

Links

http://www.formafoto.it

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