Paysage Document IV
Paysage Document IV
Past: May 3 → June 22, 2013
The series of exhibitions Cosa mentale, Paysage(s) is a trial to synthetize the photographic works from artists acquired by the French public collections who focused on landscape, starting in the 1970s up to now. This analysis is divided in 4 parts: the documentary photographs taken in an objective and typological way (Paysage-Document), the critical documentary works describing the impact of our sociopolitical activities on the landscape (Paysage-Critique), works that try to widen the range of documentary photography reaffirming a subjective dimension to the making of an image (Nouvelles subjectivités) and finally the fictional pieces with an artistic and cultural stand, be they linked to painting, cinema or literary works (Le Nouveau Pittoresque).
This ensemble led to a series of exhibition who took place in 2012 and 2013 . The gallery presents one, the 4th exhibition called Paysage-Document. It highlights 5 artists who contributed through a powerful aesthetic and writing to the development of documentary photography and the renewal of the perception on landscapes. They represent this European school — whose method and style changed over time — with a variety of approaches, some critical, others rather subjective.
Paysage-Document is the basis of the series of exhibition Cosa Mentale, Paysage(s) in the sense that the renewal of the notion of landscape was caught in the documentary cross-current who despised prefabricated elements be they pictorial, literary or historical. The photographers from this trend try to show the objective reality. They lean on radical and often systematic methods. It is not really to create an image or to give one’s point of view but rather to come close to an objective description of a territory. This trend emerged as a response to different influences as well as a specific European context. The New Topography American photographers such as Lewis Baltz, Stephen Shore or Robert Adams’ inputs can be found in the early 1980s European works and especially in the Düsseldorf School embodied by Bernd & Hilla Becher. This German school gave way to a first stream of rather urban photographic campaigns, often black and white, quite austere places chosen by Thomas Ruff and Thomas Struth’s illustration of a landscape “with no quality” for example. Their tendency to austerity, though magnified by their style, changed to color and more attractive subjects whilst other more sensitive perspectives appeared at the end of the 1980s with Axel Hütte, Andreas Gursky or Elger Esser’s images. Those artists are all still working, although their language changed to become more aesthetic, linking reality to a visual conception close to the new subjectivity ways, and moved further away from a strict documentary style.
In the rest of Europe, starting in the 1980s, numerous photographs came to light in the same way. They don’t emanate from a school but mainly encouraged by national, regional, local or private commissions, in order to document the landscape. Those occurrences all refer to the European Landscape Convention whose first draft in 1981 paved the way to the notion of a “landscapes observatory”. As an infrastructure and a theoretical, artistic and philosophical climax, the methodic description it led to shows the will to study Europe’s territories in depth, the way they last and change . This attention to method, linked with the European strategy of socio-economic studies led to major photographic campaigns and several commissions launched all around Europe in the 1990’s . One of the most famous, the DATAR was launched in France in the 1980s. Following this, many institutions have developed similar projects in the 1990s, such as the Conservatoire National du Littoral and the Observatoire Photographique des Paysages de la France, both associated to a strategy of increasing awareness on the environment protection. There are some of the DATAR artists as well as a new generation of talented ones. These commissions help diverse artistic works and have no real restrictive agenda or specifications. Most of the time as it was done since the 1980s, they cut artists loose, from an artistic and economic point of view. In the 2000s, most documentary campaigns answer a double methodology (document and creation) and made it possible for artists to continue with their studies. Some became renowned artists thanks to a personal aesthesis and the renewal of the notion of landscape. Different types of infrastructures and initiatives derive from it, directly or not: little by little, French commissions coming from the regional photographic centers and the Pôles Images thus created collections . Significant artists are in those collections thanks to those commissions. We chose to present pieces by Thibaut Cuisset, John Davies, Gilbert Fastenakens, Anne-Marie Filaire and Paola de Pietri because they all took part in territorial campaigns and have developed a personal style in the landscape photography field.
In echo, the exhibit Paysage-Critique is shown during the summer in the Maison des Arts Solange-Baudoux in Evreux, and shed light on the traces and inscriptions of past conflicts in the landscape with works that are either objective or critical towards the effect from our political actions on our environment.
Opening Thursday, May 2, 2013 6 PM → 9 PM
17, rue des Filles-du-calvaire
T. 01 42 74 47 05 — F. 01 42 74 47 06
Tuesday – Saturday, 11 AM – 6:30 PM