Doisneau: more than pictures of kissing couples

19th October 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 19, 2006 (AFP) - In the same city hall where a kissing couple provided his most famous image, the French capital on Thursday unveils an earthier side to the Parisian photographer Robert Doisneau, with its first major show of his works in more than 10 years.

PARIS, Oct 19, 2006 (AFP) - In the same city hall where a kissing couple provided his most famous image, the French capital on Thursday unveils an earthier side to the Parisian photographer Robert Doisneau, with its first major show of his works in more than 10 years.

*sidebar1*The exhibition "shows the whole array of his work... without nostalgia," Annette Doisneau, one of the two daughters of the late photographer who manage his collection told AFP, gesturing at her father's iconic 1950 picture "The Kiss at the Hotel de Ville".

The photograph may have given Robert Doisneau a romantic reputation, along with other slices of Paris life such as his picture-postcard shots of school children.

But the new exhibition shows lesser-known depths to his work.

"It is not just about bistros and children," Annette Doisneau said.

Living in the southern suburb of Montrouge, Robert Doisneau was not a native Parisian, but spent much of his time walking the streets of the city centre. The new show, "Doisneau: Paris en Liberte" ("Paris at Freedom") consists purely of photographs taken by the photojournalist within the city limits.

"He was having fun in the city," Annette Doisneau said of her father's wanderings, which spanned almost six decades to shortly before his death in 1994. "He spent all his time there."

True to this sense of fun, the exhibition, run by the mayor's office in the central Hotel de Ville city hall and free to visitors, includes several humorous montages of photos put together by the artist.

One such series, taken in 1948 from a fixed position inside the window of an art gallery, captures the amused and shocked reactions of passers-by to a painting of a stocking-clad woman's naked backside.

"There is always a game in his work. There is lots of humour," said Francine Deroudille, the other of the artist's daughters who selected photographs for the show.

"He wasn't hung up on the past," she added, pointing to a series of photos of excrement-splattered statues of 19th century military leaders to illustrate his humorous approach to the past.

"Paris en Liberte" shows many sides of the city, from the dancers of its 1950s concert halls, its writers, painters and fashion designers, to the building sites and housing blocks that transformed it in the later 20th century.

The 280 pictures chosen for the exhibition, all of them black and white, chart the life of the city in thematic rather than chronological order, recording the high- and low-life of Paris, and focussing at certain points on the encroachment of traffic and building.

"When you look at photos by my father, you can understand what it was like to live in the Paris of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, but also how Paris suddenly became a very modern city," Deroudille said.

The show spans the years from 1934 up to 1991, when Doisneau snapped the French actress Juliette Binoche walking in a white dress and high heels next to the city's Pont Neuf.

"I remember the Paris of caps and bowler hats, Paris in revolt... Paris peopled by the sanctimonious bourgeois, the Paris that belongs to the whores," the photographer said, in a rare moment of nostalgia quoted in one of the English-language texts accompanying the exhibition.

"Now we have the Paris of cars, (housing) schemes and jogging."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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