PARIS, FRANCE.-Galeries nationales du Grand Palais presents Hors cadre - Special Assignment. Gérard Rondeau, on view through January 9, 2006. Over the last ten years or so, on the request of the Direction des Musées de France and the Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Gérard Rondeau has regularly photographed museums and temporary exhibitions, especially those shown in the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Paris. Or rather, he has taken photographs in the museums and exhibitions, because his task is not to report on the works, the buildings or the visitors.
He roams about as he pleases, with no other task than that of taking a different view an inner view, one could say of places heavily charged with memories and already endlessly photographed, and of the painstaking, secret work demanded by the presentation of prestigious works of art.
A difficult exercise, indeed. A narrow path beset by many pitfalls: that of photographing the works themselves, whose qualities and beauty could suffice or make up for other inadequacies; that, too, of tourist photography, which just recites a familiar lesson or reproduces set figures; and the most pernicious of all, perhaps, that of overplaying the gap or the contrast between an acknowledged work of art, isolated, museified, reputed dead, and the life that goes on around it, in its most varied and unexpected forms.
Gérard Rondeau ventures down this tricky path and we soon sense, as we walk through the exhibition, that it is neither the monuments nor the works, nor things nor even people that catch his eye, but something scarcely visible: the relations between one thing and another and, above all, the particular air a place breathes, or a particular working atmosphere, which can be clearly perceived but is hard to put into words. But Rondeau knows how to see it suddenly in a solitary stone bench, in the gesture of a curator or the attitude of a visitor, or in a frame still in its packaging lying on the floor
The exhibition groups 150 photographs, most taken in the Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais; the others show often surprising glimpses of several national museums: the Musée dOrsay, the Musée Picasso, the Musée Port-Royal-des-Champs, the Musée Jean-Jacques Henner.