Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Footloose and Fancy Free

There's a retrospective of the work of American photographer Richard Avedon on exhibit at the Jeu de Paume and it's not to be missed. The exhibit includes work from several periods in Avedon's career, including his images of working class folks in the American West and portraits of political and economic movers and shakers of the 1970s, done for Rolling Stone. I was most captivated though by the fashion photographs he took in Paris in the years immediately following the Second World War. I know next to nothing about fashion; what captivated me was the incredible use of lighting and setting to show off the geometry and shape of each model's gown. My favorite of all, which regrettably was not available as a postcard for purchase, is this shot of Suzy Parker and Robin Tattersall roller skating joyfully through Place de la Concorde. I love the way their bodies mirror each other and fill up the space except for the image of the Hôtel de Crillon and Hôtel de la Marine on the bottom edge. And just how did he get that shot anyway?

Incidentally, if anyone knows what happened to the fountains and statuary in the place during the war years, I'd be interested to learn more. They're curiously absent here.


Terry said...

Could they have been air-brushed out? But I think this photo was taken after the war, maybe in the early 60s.
I enjoy your blog!

David B said...

For the sake of completion may I point out that the Robin Tattersall in this marvellous picture became Dr. Robin Tattersall OBE FRCSI. He moved to the British Virgin Islands in the early 1970s, represented that country in 2 Olympics as a sailor. He is (of course) a plastic surgeon, highly regarded for his work.

Kate said...

Do you know how long the Avedon exhibit is going on? My husband and I are headed to Paris for our honeymoon, but we won't be there until the beginning of September.

Anne said...

Still no answer to my question but some very interesting additions. I have since found out that the photo was taken in 1957. As for the exhibition, it is on through September 28th. You can find all the details here:

Martina Johanna said...

Hello - this exhibition was in the MFA in Boston before it went to Paris - and in Boston I heard the guide have the following explanation: Dr. Tattersall himself had visited the MFA to see this show (and yes he is still good looking) and told the story behind this 'shot':
He (at that time a student) knew some of the models and came from London for a visit in Paris. Avedon liked him to be in this photo on roller skates. Robin could not skate but there was no time to practice.
This picture was taken with the skates nailed(?) down and even the flying scarf was held with thread to have the right flying movement.
This photo 'full of movement' is therefore absolutely static! The genius of Avedon who was the first to put movements in the fashion photos which all were very stiff before.

I think there is a good book about him who describes his life and work.

Kind of disappointing but educational not to believe photo advertisements. That was the case in 1957 and much more now.

PS. We enjoy your blog and thanks for doing it!

Anne said...

Great story!

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