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The Musée de l'Elysée acquires collection of 100 original prints by Gilles Peress
Gilles Peress, Scene de rue, Azerbaidjan, 1979. ©Gilles Peress.

LAUSANNE.- The Musée de l’Elysée announced that its collections have been enriched by a major acquisition and donation: the collection of photography books belonging to Christoph Schifferli and 100 original prints by Gilles Peress have entered the museum.

The acquisition of 5,000 photography books
To the 12,000 volumes gathered in its library, the museum has added 5,000 books from the collection of Christoph Schifferli of Zurich. The Musée de l’Elysée’s library thus becomes one of the largest collections held by an institution in the field of photography.

“Over the past ten years, the value of photography books has exponentially increased. Institutions are now more and more interested in photography books, exhibiting and acquiring them, attributing to them the same status as works, thus assembling invaluable collections. By acquiring the Schifferli collection and initiating an extensive project to digitize thousands of books, the Musée de l’Elysée is aiming to become a reference in this book market, which is just reaching maturity,” Sam Stourdzé points out.

Thanks to this collection, the Musée de l’Elysée is supplementing its library with, for example, the first edition of Swiss photographer Robert Frank, the complete “Guilde du livre” collection, books on Japanese photography and books on industrial photography.

A selection of books from the Schifferli collection will be presented in January 2015 at the Musée de l’Elysée alongside the William Eggleston exhibition.

The redevelopment of the library
In order to accommodate all of these books, the Musée de l’Elysée has completely redeveloped its library on Avenue de l’Elysée 4 with the help of architect Jean-Gilles Décosterd, who designed the museum’s bookstore and the Collections Department viewing room. For now, access to the library is reserved for people collaborating with the museum and researchers who have obtained special authorization.

The launch of a digitization program
In late 2014, the Musée de l’Elysée will launch a major digitization program that will last several years. The museum will then be able to offer the first dematerialized library of photography books, asserting its place as a hub of research and digital excellence.

The donation of original Gilles Peress prints
The Musée de l’Elysée is pleased to welcome into its collection the original prints from the second edition of Telex Iran, thanks to the generous gift from a private collection. A selection from these 100 prints created in 1997 for the Scalo edition will be shown in this exhibition produced in collaboration with Gilles Peress.

Gilles Peress has intransigently documented the darkest chapters of modern history, from the Troubles in Northern Ireland to the mass graves in Bosnia and Rwanda. In 1979, he went to Iran to photograph the revolution at its height, during the hostage crisis at the US embassy in Tehran. He captured the chaos and the contrasts between the various political and religious circles of influence, the turmoil in the cities, but also everyday scenes of trivia, irony or violence.

This work, in a reflexive, very controlled photographic language, resulted in the book Telex Iran (published by Aperture and by Contrejour in 1984), now considered a major work in the history of photography. Republished in 1997 by Scalo, the book has lost none of its seismic and incisive character and has remained highly topical in light of the most recent episodes in Iran’s turbulent history.

History of the collections
Preserving and promoting photography are the primary missions of the Musée de l’Elysée, which houses a unique collection made up of over 100,000 prints and numerous photographic collections that have been either acquired by, or donated to, the museum since its foundation. In a little over ten years, some major collections have been deposited, such as the Ella Maillart collection in 2000 and the Nicolas Bouvier collection in 2004.

The pace has accelerated over the past five years. 2009 saw the arrival of the Jean Mohr collection, composed of original prints, slides and negatives. In 2011, the Charles Chaplin Archives - made up of around 10,000 vintage prints and negatives - entered the museum as a long-term loan. The Marcel Imsand Archives were donated to the museum in 2012, followed by the René Burri Archives. The Fondation René Burri, established in Lausanne in 2013, enables the museum to collect, preserve and promote the artist’s work. Through a long-term loan agreement, this Swiss heritage, universal in scope, was entrusted to the Musée de l’Elysée the same year.

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