Bibi was Madeleine Messager, the first wife of the photographer and painter Jacques-Henri Lartigue. She was photographed constantly by her husband, her weariness of his invasive camera habits evident in many of the pictures. Lartigue meticulously documented every aspect of his life in photographs and diary entries, leaving behind more than 100,000 images.
We were lucky enough to experience this incredible exhibition at Les Rencontres d’Arles, a reputed photography festival in the south of France. The journey through these photographs generates a certain emotional reaction; exhibited in chronological order, these images appear as though a visual novel or film, as the story of their courtship, glamorous marriage and the subsequent disintegration of their love unravels before your eyes. They are also presented next to Lartigue’s diary entries, of which he wrote a total of 7,000.
These photographs were taken in the 1920s and 1930s in France and London. The couple’s extravagant lifestyle of holidays in Normandy and the South of France and parties with famous actors present a rich historical trove of interwar French culture. Mostly black and white, but with some rare colour glass plates, they catch the emotions of Bibi and their assorted friends.
In the later photographs, Bibi is pictured looking out of place, amongst other women, no longer the object of Lartigue’s desires. The juxtaposition of the photographer's diaries is revealing here: while his images tell the story of a failed marriage and multiple affairs, his written observations don’t register his marital break down or any impending rupture. Starkly poignant proof that a picture is worth a thousand words.
Ticket price: Free
Address and Map: 6-18 Ramillies St, W1F 7LW
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus
|What||Jacques-Henri Lartigue: Bibi, The Photographers' Gallery|
|Where||The Photographers' Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies Street, London, W1F 7LW | MAP|
11 Oct 13 – 05 Jan 14, Mon-Sat: 10am-6pm, Thurs: 10am-8pm, Sun: 11.30am-6pm
|Website||Click here for more information via The Photographers' Gallery website.|