AVIGNON.- The Campredon Centre d'Art in Isle sur la Sorge, near Avignon, France, hosts the exhibition "From Art to Craft. Palm Springs, 1960" by the photographer Robert Doisneau, presenting hundreds of black and white images, many of them not shown before in public, together with documents, magazines and personal objects of the author selected by his daughter and the responsibles of his workshop. Next to these images, the exhibition shows other fifty color photographs from the book "Palm Springs", taken by Doisneau in 1960 commissioned by Fortune magazine and that still had not been exposed. The exhibition, which is done in collaboration with diChroma photography, opens on October 26 and will be open until February 8, 2014.
From Craft to Art exhibits a selection of about one hundred original prints, famous images set alongside some previously unseen in public, chosen for the most part from his atelier and from important private collections in France. This extensive selection, further enriched with personal documents and testimonies lovingly collected by the photographers daughter, provides us with an updated critical rereading, showing us how the apparent spontaneous beauty of his images was, in actual fact, the fruit of considerable work. In practical terms, Doisneau followed through from professional craft to artwork with unexpected seriousness, capturing fragments on film of a world to which he wished to bear witness. Robert Doisneau is one of the most important representatives of humanistic photography. For many years he has been looked upon as the minstrel of picturesque Paris, with a charming eye and a unique sense of the unexpected visual anecdote. As a result he has been championed as a poet of the "pure" moment. Doisneau's oeuvre is however much deeper and complex than that reputation suggests.
But aside from the streets of Paris, where he encountered and portrayed lovers and children, Doisneau also produced some remarkable and unexpected colour photographs. In 1960, the magazine Fortune engaged the French photographer to reveal the life of an exceptional city, born like a brilliantly coloured flower in the middle of the Californian desert: Palm Springs. Doisneau accepted the challenge and amid the desert sands, palms and cobalt blue sky, the noisy inhabitants' flashy attire, cocktails and golf courses, he created his own personal American dream, not in black and white but in an explosion of colour.
These images from the album Palm Springs 1960, reveal a little-known side of this great photographer and even the most seasoned experts will be surprised and carried away by a festive and ironic universe.
Besides, Doisneau always approached his work with a little self mockery, perhaps it was his antidote to the anguish of not being a jester, a tight-rope walker, a magician as he was too much of a realist: and here lies the paradox of one who wished to carry out his work like a street artist, with the chaste joy and fun of an artist malgré lui.
Born in 1912 in a northern suburb of Paris, Robert Doisneau grew up in a world he never wanted really but from which also himself never completely separated. After completing his studies he worked as a draftsman at the Atelier Ullmann and, in 1931, was hired as an assistant by the artist André Vigneau. In 1934 he worked as an industrial photographer and advertising in the Renault factory, but left this work five years later to join the famous photo agency Rapho. While working on their assignments, he walked the streets of Paris and the neighborhood where he was born. Thanks to journalist Robert Giraud, whom he met in 1947, Doisneau could enter the worlds of nightlife and the intellectuals whom he was away and, perhaps for this very reason, both fascinated him. His first book, a joint project with Blaise Cendrars, " The Banlieu de Paris" ( The suburbs of Paris), was published in 1949. After the great success of this book the photos of Doisneau started to be known around the world and he became, almost inadvertently, the "portraitist" of a city, Paris and of a world partly real and partly invented, in which would be nice to live. Until 1994, the year of his death, he lived with his camera as his constant companion, always looking with curiously at this small theater in which he was an actor.