“I take photographs with love, so I try to make them art objects. But I make them for myself first and foremost–that is important. If they are art objects at the same time, that’s fine with me.” – – Jacques-Henri Lartigue
Jacques Henri Lartigue (1894 -1986) was born into a wealthy French family. He was noted for his sincere, often playful presentation of friends, family and also French society at play.
At the age of six, with his fathers help he began taking photos and sketching his neighbours and family in action in his diary. His father then continued to feed his passion and bought him cameras that became increasingly more and more sophisticated. This lead him to skillfully move into a period of sports photography which in turn lead to stunning images of early automobile races.
Although rarely seen, many of his early images were taken in stereo. He was an experimental artist and an avid painter-working with varying film sizes and development processes including some of the earliest autochromes.
His greatest achievement was his set of around 120 huge photograph albums, which compose the finest visual autobiography ever produced. While he sold a few photographs in his youth, mainly to sporting magazines such as La Vie au Grand Air, in middle age he concentrated on his painting, and it was only at the age of 29 that his early photographs were discovered by Charles Rado of Rapho Agency. Rado introduced Lartigue to John Szarkowski, the curator of the MOMA, New York, who then put on an exhibition of his work.
From this, there was a photo spread in Life magazine in 1963, which was in the issue which commemorated the death of John Kennedy, ensuring the widest possible audience for his pictures.
After this point, Lartigue was very often pursued by fashion magazines and international publications for his work, and he was commissioned in 1974 to shoot an official portrait of the newly elected president of France (May 27, 1974 – May 21, 1981), Valéry Giscard d’Estaing which later lead to his first French retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.
His influence can be seen even following his passing, in the work of American Director Wes Anderson whose film Rushmore includes shots inspired by the artist. Lartigue’s likeness was also the basis for fellow artist Lord Mandrake’s character in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
For me his quote about taking photos for himself resonates true as this is my sole reason for shooting, yes I have taken photos that are for sale with Getty, yes I have shot a couple of weddings and portrait sessions for friends and friends of friends, but nothing I find better and more satisfying than just shooting what I want, when I want and how I want.
All the above images were taken from the following websites:
– At Get Photography (Accessed 23 February 2015)
– Wikipedia (Accessed 23 February 2015)