Ever since the invention of photography in the 19th century, artists’ studios have fascinated photographers. Documenting interiors and making portraits of popular artists, focusing on the creative act itself or seeing the studio as a metaphor for the birth of images … photography has always penetrated and explored these spaces where the work of art is produced. Photographing the studio is not only a way to see the artist at work and to make the creative process tangible; it also becomes, through its fascination with these spaces, an opportunity to meditate on photography itself.
The exhibition focuses on these aspects via three major themes: The Artist Enthroned, Life in the Studio and The Studio as Workshop for the Eye. As soon as visitors arrive, they enter the intimate space of creation. Early and modern prints, in both black and white and color, show photography celebrating art and artists, highlighting the artists’ personalities and their creative power. Here we find staged portraits ranging from the late 19th century to more contemporary figures like Nicolas de Staël, Piet Mondrian, Joan
Mitchell and Paul Rebeyrolle.
Next comes life in the studio itself, with photographers as privileged witnesses to its activities and encounters. The studio is, of course, the home of the creative act itself, but also a place for group art classes, for seeing family and friends and, not least, for interacting with the model. Finally, taking the studio as their subject also leads photographers to reflect
on their own practice and has proved an inexhaustible source of inspiration: consider the gravity and poetry of Luigi Ghirri’s images of Giorgio Morandi’s studio, where time seems to stand still, or André Villers’s gaze riveted on the back of a Picasso canvas or on the painter’s palette lying on a straw chair. The exhibition closes with a series of photographs of the studio as a work of art in itself: the ingenious accumulations of canvases, tools and odds and ends in Francis Bacon’s studio, and Didier Vermeiren’s geometrical arrangements of stands and sculptures. Here the studio becomes an artefact in its own right – an extension of the artist him- or herself.
This exhibition also features an interactive program inviting visitors to create an on-line exhibition. Visitors can act as curators, choosing other photographs they would have liked to see included, and the most popular choices will be used for a virtual exhibition on the website of the Petit Palais.
Delphine Desveaux: director of the Roger-Viollet collection
Susana Gállego Cuesta: curator of the Petit Palais photography collection
Françoise Reynaud: curator of the Musée Carnavalet photography collection
With the support of :