• Charles Marville

    Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris

    Last November was a municipally-sponsored “Mois de la Photo” in Paris, with about three dozen shows presented at two dozen locations ranging from major museums and private galleries to bookstores and Métro stations. Reasons given for this extraordinary honoring of photography varied, depending on who was speaking. Publicly, Mayor Jacques Chirac sounded a populist note (All Photography to the People!). Privately, one photographer I spoke with took a more skeptical view, pointing out that elections were coming up soon, some sort of glorious public celebration was needed, photography exhibitions

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  • Julia Margaret Cameron

    Maison de Victor Hugo

    Other shows of rare and interesting 19th-century material also seemed to be altered by their presentation. It was as if Heisenberg’s Principle—the hypothesis in physics that every phenomenon is disturbed by the way in which it is observed—applied to photography exhibitions. To get to the Julia Margaret Cameron show in Victor Hugo’s house, you first had to pass through a room full of Hugo’s own painting and drawing. Done while he was in exile on Guernsey, an island noted for boredom and mushrooms, Hugo’s art was remarkable for its hallucinogenic qualities. After those paintings, the photographs

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  • Etienne-Jules Marey

    Musée Carnavelet

    I haven’t begun to exhaust all the 19th-century shows that were worth looking at. Two exhibitions of scientific photographs—the Carnavalet’s of Etienne-Jules Marey pictures never seen before, and an exhibition of physiognomical photographs—were both “worth the trip,” as the Michelin guide would say. As you progressed into the 20th century, the gallery spaces and installations were sometimes better, but the shows themselves frequently weren’t.

    Colin Westerbeck

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  • Henri Cartier-Bresson, Andre Kertesz, Willy Ronis, Sabine Weiss, Luigi Comencini, Lucien Aigner, Gina Lollobrigida, George Hoyningen-Huene, Claude Sauvageot and Marie Ange Donzé

    Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Galerie Agathe Gaillard, FNAC Montparnasse, Galerie Viviane Esders, FNAC Forum, Musée Carnavalet, Marie du 18e, Métro Chatelet les Halles

    This wasn’t the case with Henri Cartier-Bresson’s show, of course, though its size—more than 300 pictures—was overwhelming despite the familiarity of many of them. The few older pictures that hadn’t been seen before were often doubly interesting because they were not only good photographs, but also shed light on Cartier-Bresson’s life. Another Leica pioneer whose work has remained engaging is Andre Kertesz, who was on hand for the opening of his show, and who, at age 86, is as vigorous and garrulous as ever. In the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s, however, slightly younger photographers softened and

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  • Jacques Wendenbergh, Kenneth Snelson

    Centre Pompidou, Galerie Zabriskie

    One of the few contemporary exhibitions that seemed to reflect a real passion for its subject was that of Jacques Wendenbergh, who has photographed in Provence for the last decade. His pictures of both crowds and space filled the frame powerfully, and his work gave evidence of the kind of instinct for light necessary for a truly original vision. Yet even this work often seemed to fall short of first-rate because it was printed on contrasty paper (Agfa #5?) which blew away backgrounds and otherwise simplified images, as if that would somehow simplify as well the social issues that interested

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  • Joel Fisher

    Galerie Farideh Cadot

    Joel Fisher’s recent works on paper sum up nine months of graphic meditation. From the first to the last pieces in these series, Fisher strove to make this work sensitive and eloquent: if it does not exhaust all the possibilities proposed by the connection between stroke and surface, it defines the outcome of their relationship.

    Fisher begins by making the paper: he sets a particular value on this activity because it allows him to obtain distinct surfaces with irregularities, faults, and luminosity. In this way, each sheet that comes out of his studio challenges him with a unique and irreplaceable

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