From November 10th 2017 to January 20th 2018

Sebastião Salgado et Marc Riboud

Femmes du Monde

They have been with us since Polka’s creation in 2007. One decade later, to mark this anniversary, the gallery is commemorating these two great photographers who have granted us their trust since the very beginning: Marc Riboud, passed away in august 2016 and Sebastião Salgado. Taking place from November to January, the exhibition constructs a dialogue between their works. The selection of photographs selected by the photographers’ spouses: Lelia Wanick Salgado and Catherine Riboud, focuses on the female subjects encountered by each photographer in their travels. Their two visions are displayed in dialogue with one another.

Femmes du Monde was conceived in homage to the boldness, the independence and lyrical realism of Courbet’s masterpiece L’Origine du Monde. The master from Ornans studied the mysteries of the gaze, of beauty and of desire, questioning the role of the viewer in relation to a work of art.

The selection of Sebastião’s 34 photographs featured in the exhibition and chosen by his spouse and studio director of Amazonas images, Leila, re ect an introspective journey into his most well known series, into the heart of his vision and artistic practice spanning 45 years. Who are these mysterious women, these visions painted in black and white? “He crossed battle elds witnessing violence, anguish and pain,” Leila recounts “but it is these women that he saw among the chaos, in moments of great sorrow. He understood one fact: it was they, who carried the weight of the world, who withstood every trial of fate.”

Marc Riboud re ects similarly on nding beauty in his surroundings throughout his 65-year-long career: “I never tire of watching for a surprise, for just the right note in a moment, be it humorous or moving. Beauty is everywhere.” His photographic selection deviates somewhat from that of Salgado, featuring primarily unique large format prints from 2012 as well as some vintage prints from his daughter Clémence’s collection. Some have never been seen before, while others like the portrait of Jan Rose Kasmir protesting the Vietnam war with owers in 1967 Washington, have made history.

Marc Riboud’s wife Catherine Chaine recalls: “Perhaps it is Marc’s photographic signature to capture grace above all in a woman. There is, for instance the unknown woman photographed at Nigeria’s independence ball in the 60s. Or better still, the woman wandering Beijing’s streets in traditional aristocratic dress, staring with disdain at the crowd surrounding her in Mao-era uniform.”

Both Sebastião Salgado’s and Marc Riboud’s best photography is punctuated by these subtle images of women photographed outside the grammar of traditional iconography or academicism. These women are witnesses and messengers: gateways to the worlds they inhabit and whose story they tell. Inhabiting the photograph, they sometimes even become icons, merging with the fabric of the image itself. 


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