Germaine Krull, from industry to aesthetics

The German photographer Germaine Krull owes her reputation as an avant-garde artist to her work Metal. Until 10 June, Munich’s Pinakothek der Moderne is devoting a huge exhibition to her. An interview with Simone Förster, curator for the Ann and Jürgen Wilde Foundation behind this exhibition.   Over her life, almost 90 years long, Germaine Krull lived on four continents. Could you retrace the different stages of her life? Germaine Krull was born in Poznan, Poland, in 1897, and moved many times during her childhood. Her family lived in Italy, France, Switzerland and Austria. She arrived in Germany when she was a teenager, where she studied photography, and then she opened a studio in Munich. Because of her political stance during the Bavarian revolution, she was expelled from Germany in 1920. After, she went to Russia, where she stood up alongside the Communists. But she was deemed a counter-revolutionary there, and was imprisoned and expelled from the USSR. After stints in Berlin and Amsterdam, she settled in Paris, where she opened a portrait and fashion photography studio. It was also during this period that she produced her work Metal. Next, she worked as a war reporter, declared her opposition to the Vichy regime, and became a journalist-photographer in Congo-Brazzaville. Germaine Krull then left for Thailand where she managed a hotel for around twenty years. When she was already getting on in years, she moved to India to support Tibetan refugees, before returning to be with her sister in Germany, where she died in 1985.   What role did France play in this artist’s career? It was in Paris that Germaine Krull made a name for herself as an avant-garde artist and photographer, with her Metal portfolio, produced in 1928. The part of her work for which she is appreciated...

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PhotoMonaco: “Experiencing photographic moments”

A brand new spot with a French Riviera flourish is springing up for spring, and will shortly be bringing its buzz to Monaco… From 5 to 8 April, PhotoMonaco, an international fair on artistic photography and collection, will be launching its first edition in the Principality. An interview with Renaud Siegmann, the event’s director.   He’s known for his commitment to images, and appreciated for his inspired take on contemporary creation for nearly 30 years now. After curating the Marrakech Art Fair in 2010 and 2011, and steering the Monaco Art Fair as its executive director in 2016, Renaud Siegmann is taking on the 8th art… The aim being to revisit the photographic medium in depth. As an active commentator on emerging scenes in places ranging from China to Brazil via Bahrain and Russia, this rigorous curator, formerly a cultural engineer for the Scottish Executive in Edinburgh, is delighted to be launching a new platform: an international fair on artistic photography and collection in Monaco. An event soaked in typically “Grimaldi” elegance, placed under the high patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco. Its aim? To enlighten gazes, to play with light… In short, to trigger original encounters with images that will captivate the public. For this first edition, Renaud Siegmann is backing the notion of “experiencing photographic moments”. Intimate moments, characterised by fleeting beauty and literary nostalgia, that will make your pupils dilate… The theme is “Le Temps du Regard” (The Time of Vision), soon coming to Monaco!   In a cultural landscape filled with fairs and biennales where photography is already well represented, what’s special about PhotoMonaco? PhotoMonaco is special because it offers experience of the photographic moment. This is not yet another fair focusing solely on the commercial aspect. The cultural aspect is dear to me,...

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Data: Robert Mapplethorpe, a stabilising market

The market of this “sculptor-painter”, whose auction prices are still affordable, is currently stabilising, even if great disparities exist. A market that still tends to be dominated by the United States… Robert Mapplethorpe was born on 4 November 1946 in New York State, into an English-Irish Catholic family. He was the third of six children. He spent his childhood in Floral Park, Queens (New York) where he attended Our Lady of the Snows. “I was a Catholic boy, I went to church every Sunday. A church has a certain magic and mystery for a child. It still shows in how I arrange things” (Deborah A. Levinson, Robert Mapplethorpe’s Extraordinary Vision). In 1963, Robert Mapplethorpe enrolled in Pratt Institute, Brooklyn. First — and primarily to please his father — he studied graphic arts. Bad choice. He dropped out two years later and it was then that he turned his attention the visual arts — drawing, painting, sculpture. He began making surrealist collages, in tandem with his discovery of cannabis and LSD. He met Patti Smith, and they became friends — following a short tryst. At this time, Robert Mapplethorpe was largely marked by Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Cornell: he continued to practise collage, but also made boxes, installations and altar pieces, influenced by his Catholic childhood but also by black magic. At the end of the 1960s, Robert Mapplethorpe became fascinated by the New York avant-garde. He namely frequented the clubs near Union Square, such as Max’s Kansas City or CBGB, where Factory members tended to congregate: Andy Warhol himself, but also Gerard Malanga and Candy Darling. According to Patti Smith, it was only at the start of the 1970s that Robert Mapplethorpe started photography. His interest in the medium is inseparable from his visits to the Metropolitan Museum (New York), when John...

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Galerie Particulière represents Lise Sarfati

The Galerie Particulière, a photography gallery in the Marais district in Paris, now represents Lise Sarfati. Born in 1958 in Oran, Algeria, this self-taught artist, twice winner of the Prix Niépce and a member of Magnum Photos, started her career as official photographer for the Académie des Beaux-Arts de Paris. Fascinated with Russia from an early age, Lise Sarfati completed a master’s in Russian studies, and in 1989, moved to this country which would wield a major influence on her work. The young men she met there became the basis of her work as a documentary photographer while her artistic search focuses on the body’s relationship to space and emptiness. Today, the artist lives in the United States which she prefers to France whose architecture she perceives as overwhelming its people.  She is represented in New York by Yossi Milo, and in Santa Monica by Rose Gallery. Lise Sarfati’s work can be seen in exhibitions throughout the world and is represented in many collections. Several monographs have been published on...

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Data: Brassaï, the eye of Paris

At a time when the Centre Pompidou is showing the photographer’s well-known Graffiti, we retrace the career of Brassaï and his popularity on the art market, peaking in 2006. Paris by night. Who, better than Brassaï, has managed to capture the magic of the French capital after dark? Gyula Halász was born on 9 September 1899 in Brașov (Austria-Hungary), of a Hungarian father and an Armenian mother. Young Gyula moved to Paris at a tender age with his parents – in 1903 when his father was hired to teach literature at the Sorbonne. Later, Gyula Halász headed to Budapest where he studied at the School of Fine Arts, then signed up with the Austrian-Hungarian cavalry during World War I. He then set down his suitcases in Berlin, in 1921, to continue his art studies  – at the Academy of Fine Arts of Berlin-Charlottenburg – while earning a crust as a journalist. Here he met Kandinsky, then coined his pseudonym in 1923, inspired by his birthplace. Indeed, Brassaï means “from Brașov”. In 1924, he returned to Paris and settled in the district of Montparnasse, still largely frequented by artists and poets. Legend has it that he learned French by reading Proust and memorising ten words per day. Here, he met Henry Miller – who later called him “the eye of Paris” –, Léon-Paul Fargue, the famous Kiki of Montparnasse and Jacques Prévert. In 1946, the latter would illustrate his Paroles d’une photographie in the Graffiti series. At the same time, Brassaï continued his career as a journalist by writing for Hungarian and German newspapers. It was only in 1930 that he started photography, introduced to it by André Kertész, initially to document his articles. Very quickly, Brassaï developed a passion for the art that was gaining in strength at the...

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