La photographie en France, 1950-2000

La photographie en France, 1950-2000, November 14 2012 – January 13 2013, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France.

In 1950, farming accounted for the activity of one third of the working population of France, the most popular car was the Citroën 2CV, and the term “réclame” was still used for advertising.

Photography became omnipresent in the pages of magazines, made a more timid apparition on town walls, and generally became a familiar feature of everyday life as a popular art form: an “art moyen” or “middlebrow art” as Pierre Bourdieu described it. Fifty years on, the situation is very different. The city has permanently impinged on the countryside and the urban way of life has spread and become more uniform. Photography is still present, but it seems to be past its peak; magazines disappear one by one, publicity takes the form of moving pictures on screens, and photography is mainly considered as an art form.

So if photography is both everywhere and nowhere, reduced to the status of an image, what is left? Which images have left their mark over the last 50 years?
This is what we propose to explore by looking at the many faces of photography: press photography, fashion, advertising and interior design photography in magazines or on the walls of Metro stations, art photography in books or large format gallery prints. These different practices and media form a story that is seldom told: that of a diverse and historically rich medium.

Famous names abound: exponents of the great humanist movement such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Izis, Ronis and Dieuzaide; radical artists such as Boltanski, Messager and Tosani; photographers with a personal narrative approach such as Plossu, Roche, Klein and Depardon; and less readily remembered names such as Hamilton, Jonvelle, Lariviere and Goude.
The two curators have not shunned subjectivity – how can it be otherwise when they have more or less consciously been part of the same history? – but they hope that this event will give rise to much fertile debate on the hybrid art of photography today.

Curators: Gilles Mora and Alain Sayag