Après Eden — La collection Walther


Photography, video

Après Eden
La collection Walther

Past: October 17, 2015 → January 24, 2016

Since its opening, each autumn la maison rouge has shown a major international collection.

Beginning October 17th, 2015, Artur Walther’s exceptional collection of photography will be on view. Over a period of twenty years, Artur Walther has assembled significant and cohesive ensembles, beginning with German photography, then American, and later African and Asian photography.


Après Eden will present a selection of over 500 works by some fifty artists.

Historical photography, daguerreotypes, contemporary photography, video works, journals and late nineteenthcentury albums have been chosen by the curator, Simon Njami, to form an itinerary which takes in landscapes, faces, performance, portraiture, and anthropometric and ethnographic essays.

Apres eden collection walther maison rouge 02 medium
Santu Mofokeng, Chief More’s Funeral, GaMogopa, from « Bloemhof », 1989 Courtesy of The Walther Collection & Lunetta Bartz/MAKER, Johannesburg

Après Eden

by Simon Njami

A collection is a world in itself. A personal world, in constant evolution, whose contours can sometimes elude even the collector. To penetrate this peculiar land is to play the part of an explorer tasked with charting unfamiliar terrain. The world of Artur Walther is split between recurrent categories, introduced as the collector developed a greater understanding of himself, and gradually grasped the meaning of the gesture that first prompted the acquisition of a photograph: nature, i.e. landscapes, portraits, performance, the city and the otherness brought to the fore by science, books and albums, which are another of photography’s favoured domains.

The exhibition’s title, Après Eden (After Eden), emerged out of the sequences and segments that make up the collection.

Apres eden collection walther maison rouge 12 medium
August Sander, Jungbauern (Young Farmers), 1914 © Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur — August Sander Archiv, Cologne / VG Bild–Kunst / ARS, NY

The Walther collection tells something beyond that which I, the outside observer, can perceive.

When viewing the collection, I appreciate not just the images it contains but how they were assembled. Each has a life of its own, each bears its author’s intention, yet I perceive them through the eyes of the collector who is intimately connected to what they may say, in this specific context. There is a causal reasoning between these landscapes, faces, performances, portraits, ethnographic and anthropometric essays. There is a story. Because an exhibition is nothing other than a narrative, an interpretation at a global, total level. Images placed one next to the other will, following a humanist logic, produce a universality that transcends dates, places and techniques.

There is also the scientific equation of the world and its inhabitants, in this quest which contains an alchemical dimension.

Apres eden collection walther maison rouge 12 medium
August Sander, Jungbauern (Young Farmers), 1914 © Die Photographische Sammlung / SK Stiftung Kultur — August Sander Archiv, Cologne / VG Bild–Kunst / ARS, NY

Africa, Europe, Asia no longer have any real importance. Geographic specificities disappear, leaving us with a meta-vision that transforms them into epiphenomena. Photography, once again, often tells us something other than whatever it ostensibly shows. I have come across, in a photograph, a tale, a parable with the human being as its raw matter. Après Eden results from the confrontation of two perspectives: that of the curator and that of the collector. And from this confrontation, this dialogue between two different sensibilities comes something that belongs neither quite to one, nor quite to the other.

  • Opening Friday, October 16, 2015 6 PM → 9 PM
  • Meeting Thursday, November 12, 2015 at 7 PM

    Rencontre entre le collectionneur Artur Walther et le commissaire de l’exposition, Simon Njami. Réservation obligatoire : reservation@lamaisonrouge.org
    9 euros tarif plein — 6 euros tarif réduit. Dialogue en anglais.

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10, bd. de la Bastille

75012 Paris

T. 01 40 01 08 81 — F. 01 40 01 08 83


Quai de la Rapée

Opening hours

Wednesday – Sunday, 11 AM – 7 PM
Late night on Thursday until 9 PM

Admission fee

Full rate €10.00 — Concessions €7.00

Accès gratuit sous conditions