My Paris Stories

Paris is photography paradise

It’s easy if you a lover of photography: Paris turns into photography paradise in November, the world’s capital of photography.

The Mois de la photo, a month–long event with exhibitions throughout the city, is celebrating already it’s 30th anniversary. But the highlight during the month of photography is undeniably Paris Photo, the world leading fair for modern and contemporary photography that opened today.

The tout Paris shows up

Held at the Carousel du Louvre over four days (from 18th to 21st of November 2010), Paris Photo gathers more than 100 exhibitors from around the world. You can imagine the hustle and bustle down there in the catacombs of the Carousel: On the opening night the tout Paris shows up. You can run into Bettina Rheims and Karl Lagerfeld and all the other very important people.

Afterwards the excitement of being part of the game remains: selling art, buying art, just looking at art, but being busy, busy, flying like a butterfly from flower to flower, from gallery to gallery, from booth to booth.

A close-up from Google street view

There is something for everyone and every taste. And I would say for almost every purse.  Of course, it’s better when the latter is full. Would you like to acquire a Robert Doisneau? Possible. Or do you prefer Helmut Newton? Hamiltons Gallery from London are selling Irving Penn’s Cuzco Children for 250.000 $. But you can get huge photos of Italian photographer Massimo Vitali for 25 000 Euros. The same is true for German photographer Michael Wolf who enlarged shots of Google Street View of Paris and transformed them into mysterious, super-pixellated pictures.

The famous shot from Robert Capa Deat of a loyalist militaman from the Spanish Civil War was already sold: 2380 Euros.

Overview of the Central European scene

Every year, the fair celebrates photography from a different region. This year the spotlight is turned on Central Europe. Would I have realized it without knowing it? No, definitely not. But when you focus on it, you’ll discover work by more than 90 Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Slovakian and Slovenian artists. From the historical avant-garde movement of the 1920s and 30s like André Kertész (celebrated at the moment with a wonderful retrospective at the Jeu de Paume) through to the most contemporary production, Paris Photo tries to offer an overview of the Central European scene.

Although photography is one of the richest forms of artistic expression in countries like Poland and Hungary, only a few artists are known beyond the borders of Central Europe. “Many of the photographers had been forgotten, even though their work is breathtaking”, said Guillaume Piens, the fair’s manager.

Lack of interest

Appreciation for work from this part of the world has indeed come very late. It’s due not only to historical obstacles like the iron curtain, but also at play was a prevailing lack of interest or ignorance on the part of West towards the former Eastern Bloc. I'm not sure that Paris Photo will change this. Let’s see if curiosity will grow once the fair is over.

Paris Photo 2010
From 18th-21st of November
Carrousel du Louvre
99, rue de Rivoli
75001 Paris
Admisson: 18 Euros