Gallery Vassie is proud to present, an exhibition in conjunction with Foam of the work of the historic and acclaimed photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue (1894-1986). Born in Courbevoie, France in 1894, Lartigue was a privileged child and using his father’s camera took his first photographs at the age of six. This was the beginning of what would become a lifelong diary, creating an enduring record of 20th century French life. His charming and delightful work continued to capture with beauty and panache, the intimacies of family life and high society, with its ‘beautiful’; and that of aviation and motoring both in their infancy.
An unfailingly curious amateur, he tried out all available techniques, tirelessly recording fleeting moments and meticulously arranging his several thousand images into large albums, which were to become one of the major achievements of modern photography. Many of these albums will be exhibited at the exhibition at Foam.
This exhibition focuses primarily on Lartigue’s fascination with the joys of life, enveloped in exquisite glamour. These images record the high society carelessly frolicking in the south of France, the wealthy at play. Drenched in fun and laughter, these images of Lartigue’s friends in all manner of splendid games, sun bathing, swimming and cheekily cavorting leave one with a liberated sense of joy.
The world seen through his resolutely optimistic lens, is one of pleasure, leisure and great style. His affection for successive muses inspired his images - Bibi, his first wife; his enticing and alluring, glamorous Romanian mistress, Renée Perle; his later wives, Coco and Florette - and it is these extraordinary women in particular who provide some of the exhibition's most striking images.
Although Lartigue occasionally sold his pictures to the press and exhibited at the Galerie d’Orsay alongside Brassaï, Man Ray and Doisneau, his reputation as an important figure of the modern era was photographer was not truly established until 1963, when he was 69, with a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Organised by John Szarkowski and accompanied by the publication of a portfolio in Life Magazine, Szarkowski saw Lartigue as "the precursor of all that is lively and interesting..."
Worldwide fame came three years later with his first book, The Family Album, followed in 1970, Diary of a Century, which was conceived by photographer Richard Avedon.
His acquaintances in the world of the arts included Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau, while his passion for movies saw him work as still photographer with Robert Bresson and Federico Fellini.
The key to Lartigues images, characterised by a keen eye for composition, was a clear passion for his subjects, and an ability to create timeless photographs from the most fleeting of moments.
In 1975 Lartigue had his first French retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. For the rest of his life he was busy answering commissions from fashion and decoration magazines. He died in Nice on 12th September 1986.
Today the Lartigue name is now synonymous with quality and commands the highest respect. His work continues to be exhibited extensively internationally, with countless solo exhibition in institutions & museums worldwide. Consequently, the images of J.H. Lartigue are included in the majority of key museum and photography collections worldwide.
This is the second exhibition of Lartigue’s images at Gallery Vassie, the first being in 2004.
Jacques Henri Lartigue