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The Beauty of Lines
31st January 2018 at 11:00 am - 6th May 2018 at 6:00 pm CET8CHF
The exhibition presents a selection of masterpieces from the history of photography, part of the collection of Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla. Based in New York, it includes over 1500 original prints by some of the greatest photographers of the 20th and 21st centuries. Through visual confrontations, the visitor is invited to experience the power of the photographic line through these sublime works. The photographs by Bérénice Abbott, Eugène Atget, Robert Adams, Walker Evans, Vik Muniz, Man Ray and Lee Friedlander, among others, thus resonate, beyond their historical temporality and geographic considerations, by their formal correspondences.
Throughout history, photographers have always oscillated between two extremes: the mimetic illusion of reality and the enhancement of the esthetic qualities of the image. Whether it be “instantaneous lines”, according to the expression of Henri Cartier-Bresson, rational lines inspired from New Topographics, or the diversity of the curved lines of the human body, the line structures and sometimes reinvents the real – to the point of abstraction.
In the case of photography, spectators, even the most discriminating, often first observe the world that they are presented with. They scrutinize the face or the landscape, they marvel at the details, the fashionable clothes, the expressions on the children’s faces. In other words, they can forget that they are actually looking at a piece of paper, as flat as a page in a book or a drawing. Fascinated by the mimetic illusion, they might not even see the lines – straight, curved, oblique – that actually form the basis of the photographic composition.
From the controlled to the spontaneous line
By confronting works by artists such as Stéphane Couturier, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Lewis Baltz and Robert Adams, this section emphasizes the importance of the lines of force of the image and of the feelings that emerge when they are strictly parallel or, instead, at least in appearance, more spontaneous.
The essence of bodies and of the line
With works by Edward Weston, Bill Brandt, André Kertész, Robert Mapplethorpe, Léon Levinstein and Berenice Abbott, among others, this section shows that the curve defines all male and female bodies, photographed as a whole or in detail.
The line in its purest form
This section encompasses the photographs of Aaron Siskind, Minor White, Ray K. Metzker and Harry Callahan, whose reference to the real world disappears, initially revealing the lines of abstraction of the image.
Tatyana Franck, director, Musée de l’Elysée
Pauline Martin, curator, Musée de l’Elysée