Lartigue and Kertesz are both photographers and modernist artists

Lartigue and Kertesz are both photographers and modernist artists

PalmaOn a street in any city, a line of people walks in the rain as if they were one living being. Everyone has his own umbrella, and they are all exactly the same, black and the same size, although the heights of their stands are different. They form a kind of combination game that ends with a more than surprising element: on the ground, right in front of them all, there is a white arrow marked on the asphalt that seems to It indicates the path we should take. More than just a photograph of a strange and unexpected event, this snapshot of Andre Kertesz feels like a performance piece, a joke, or a short story. Perhaps that is why Matthew Rivalin, the curator of the exhibition Lartigue and Kertesz: Step to the side,Which just opened at the Tony Catani International Center of Photography, he describes it as one of the best photographs he has ever seen.

“One thing in common between Lartigue and Kertéche, which I also see in Catané, is that they understood photography as another form of art. They felt artists were, above all, “How successfully they show their paths.” He was responsible, along with Marion Percival, of Donation Lartigue, for curating the exhibition that premiered last year at Espace Richaud de Versailles in Paris, and which brings together the works of what is known as the “master of the shot,” Jacques-Henri Lartigue , with one of the inventors of photojournalism, Andre Kertesz, two pioneers distinguished by their possession of a modern, free and unique vision of the world in front of them.

Modernity is concentrated in a moment

Thus, among the 150 images that can be viewed until next September 29 at the CIF Toni Catany in Llucmajor, there are portraits of figures such as his fellow photographer Richard Avedon, filmmakers Sergei Eisenstein and Federico Fellini or Piet Mondrian, who blend with the shots captured in beauty. Competitions, spas and festivals from the middle of the last century that together build a radiographic picture of a time when everything had to be done and everything seemed possible. All images are divided into 13 thematic areas, from both photographers' beginnings to their arrival at international recognition through Kertesz's relationship with the avant-garde or Lartigue's relationship with the contemporary.

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“There is a magical point in some of the images,” the curator continues, “and it is unavoidable to associate them with the avant-garde. They are very moving images, sometimes even drifting towards surrealism, without leaving aside the ethnographic element that appears in many of them.” In fact, the exhibition also serves to record fragments of the daily lives of anonymous people, which in themselves form a glimpse into some of the social changes that occurred between the 1930s and the 1980s: the transition to modernity concentrated, again and again, in a single moment.

A contemporary and global outlook

“They were, with Cartier-Bresson, for example, like the Rolling Stones of photography. “During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, they toured all over the world, and while the Brits were giving their concerts, the French were busy photographing everything from a street “And it all began for Lartigue and Kertesz, with the two exhibitions they starred in at the beginning of the 1960s at MoMA, where they became known to the world.”

Lartigue, who was born in France in 1894, was almost 60 years old when in 1963 he was described as a “pioneer of photographic modernism” thanks to an exhibition dedicated to him at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, an exhibition that represented a precedent and a later in his career that led him to Collaborating, among others, with Richard Avedon and B. Fittler, the magazine's artistic director Harper's Bazaar.

For his part, Kertesz, who is of Hungarian origin, had been living in the United States for nearly 30 years when he was rediscovered thanks to the aforementioned exhibition, held in his case in 1964, but also through another exhibition they dedicated to him. At the National Library in Paris just one year ago. It must be said, however, that one of the most surprising elements of his career is the diversity of subjects he came to explore: from the first shots taken on the front after his conscription during World War I to the series. Deformities, produced in the early 1930s, in which the heroes are the naked bodies of two models reflected in a distorting mirror. Architecture, urban planning and the lives of disadvantaged people, among others, were also part of his interests.

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Alternative paths to recognition

But the title of the exhibition One step to the side, points out one of the main characteristics of these parallel paths taken by the two photographers: the absolute freedom with which they always worked, avoiding “the most direct paths of recognition,” as described in the same exhibition file. “Not until the 1970s were these two independent figures seen as references without a school,” says the book. In proof of this capacity for constant renewal, Matteo Ravellan also illustrates the work of Toni Catani, who had photographs of Kertész in his collection and an extensive bibliographic representation of French photographers in his library.

“Catani is part, like the two of them, of a very interesting generation in which it is difficult to find similarities between its representatives; “They are all unique,” ​​Ravellan explains, “They were all unique in their way of photographing.” In this sense, it is almost impossible It is for the curator to identify the influences they may have had on the photographers who came after them, although there is no doubt that they left a mark on many of them. “In Kertész’s case, for example, his influence is perhaps not as clear and obvious as that of Robert Capa or Henri Cartier. Bresson when it comes to understanding photojournalism, because most photojournalists today have a lot of them, which is more important. It's difficult to establish relationships with Kertesz, who was always very creative, although there are some relationships as well.” “And as for Artigue… maybe We can see a connection with a contemporary photographer like Martin Parr, for example, for this constant search for different compositions, for photographing human landscapes of sometimes uncomfortable naturalness, which are not looking for a permanent smile, and for places in which they move. Whatever the case, both Lartigue and Kertesz are very unique photographers, completely unique.

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This is demonstrated in reality through the self-portraits of the photographers that are also part of the exhibition. Lartigue's painting is actually a triptych self-portrait: in a photograph taken in the middle of a field, stands out a central figure, Lartigue, who looks, with his back to the camera, at his reflection in the mirror directly across the canvas where the artist is painting himself. In Kertesz's novel, produced only a few years later, the protagonist is a game of shadows in which the silhouette of the photographer is inseparable from the image of the camera he holds in his hands. Both models were manufactured nearly 100 years ago, around the time when Lartigue and Kertéche were beginning their research into the paths of modernity.

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