This exhibition brings together black and white masterpieces from the photographic collections of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Nadar, Man Ray, Ansel Adams, Willy Ronis, Helmut Newton, Diane Arbus, Mario Giacomelli, Robert Frank, William Klein, Daido Moriyama, Valérie Belin...: the great names of French and international photography are brought together in an exhibition featuring some 300 prints, covering 150 years of the history of black & white photography, from its origins in the 19th century to contemporary creation.


The exhibition approaches the question of black and white from an aesthetic, formal and sensitive angle, emphasizing the ways in which the image is created: the plastic and graphic effects of contrasts, the play of light and shadow, the rendering of materials in the entire palette of values from black to white. Emphasis was placed on photographers who concentrated and systematized their artistic creation in black and white, experimented with its possibilities and limits, or made it the very subject of their photography, such as Man Ray, Ansel Adams, Ralph Gibson, Mario Giacomelli and Valérie Belin. Particular attention has been paid to the quality of the prints, to the variety of photographic techniques and papers, and also to black-and-white printing, as books and magazines have long been the main medium for bringing photographic creation to the public.


Curated by 

Sylvie Aubenas, Director, Department of Prints and Photography, BnF
Héloïse Conésa, head of the photography department, in charge of contemporary photography in the Department of Prints and Photography, BnF
Flora Triebel, curator in charge of 19th-century photography, Department of Prints and Photography, BnF
Dominique Versavel, curator in charge of modern photography in the Department of Prints and Photography, BnF