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Photographic Collections of the Museum of Decorative Arts, Paris

Photos from Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris © MAD Paris.


The exhibition ‘Histoires de Photographies’ opening on April 1, 2021 until January 2022 offers choice pickings from the rich collections of the museum


20 Février 2021 - 13:50
     

350.000 visuals from 1840 up to the present in the archives

The museum’s archives include phototypes about fashion, architecture, landscapes and also advertising. 400 original prints and negatives on show are immortalized by famous names such as Eugène Atget, Laure Albin-Guillot, Dora Kallmus (Madame d’Ora), Man Ray, Cecil Beaton, Robert Doisneau, Bettina Rheims or David Seidner.

Displayed not only in chronological order, but also according to specific themes, the choice reveals the uses of photography for political, economic, legal, artistic or documentary reasons which also influenced decorative arts. The Parisian museum has played a key role since the inception of photography on the artistic scene in France.

From the origins of Les Arts Décoratifs in 1864

Photography was regarded as a didactic method to teach and spread ideas to workers and artisans. The Central Union of Fine Arts and Architecture produced its own photographs, to document the work of Pierre Chareau, Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann or Louis Sognot, beginning in 1883. These images were available to researchers in the library of the museum.
 

Eiffel Tower by Robert Doisneau, 1965, gelatine-silver print © Robert Doisneau_Gamma Rapho © MAD Paris Christophe Dellière
Eiffel Tower by Robert Doisneau, 1965, gelatine-silver print © Robert Doisneau_Gamma Rapho © MAD Paris Christophe Dellière

A novel program of presenting exhibitions

During the 20th century the museum presented a range of exhibitions such as the ‘Exhibition of War Photography’ in 1916 or the ‘International Exhibition of Contemporary Photography’ in 1936. Furthermore, French retrospectives of the photography of Henri Cartier-Bresson (1955) or Jacques Henri Lartigue (1975) were also displayed.

In 2021 the museum will again pay tribute to photography, but this time with samples from its own collections classified into six sections including the recognition of the importance of photography in France.

Charles Marville, street light, Arts et Metiers Square, ca 1862, print © MAD Paris Christophe Dellière
Charles Marville, street light, Arts et Metiers Square, ca 1862, print © MAD Paris Christophe Dellière

Exchanges in the 19th century

The 19th century was also an era of exchanges when the World Fairs from 1867 onwards introduced images from the outside world which fired the imagination of visitors including artists and collectors. Ranging from South America, Asia or other regions of Europe and the Mediterranean, these visions attested to different points of view whether colonial, touristic, ethnographic or personal. Visuals taken by Henri Le Secq or Charles Marville of monuments contributed to the importance of national heritage and architecture.

The exhibition begins with the work of associations or institutions founded in France such as the French Society of Photography (1854) and the Federation of Photography (1862). As mentioned before, images of still life, ornaments or figures were taken in order to educate the sensibilities of artists and craftsmen
 
 

Double portrait of wax mannequins, 1925-1930, gelatine-silver print, Jean Collas © MAD Paris Christophe Dellière
Double portrait of wax mannequins, 1925-1930, gelatine-silver print, Jean Collas © MAD Paris Christophe Dellière

Continuation of the Show

Viewers are transported into the years between 1920-1930 where photography was increasingly used for advertising introducing modernism by not only the photographers but also graphic artists, publishers and decorators. In 1925 the ‘International Exhibition of Decorative Arts and Modern Industries’ was a fundamental step forward for the world of photography and publishing. Magazines such as ‘Art et Décoration’, ‘L’architecture d’Aujourd’hui’ or ‘Connaissances des arts’ turned increasingly towards photographic illustration featuring the work of Thérèse Bonney or Jean Collas for example.

In 1948 the ‘Union française des arts et du costume’ UFAC founded by François Boucher led to the collection of costumes, textiles and images of fashion which joined the other fashion collections later administered by the Museum des Arts Décoratifs in 1981. Thus respects were paid to the most important figures of French Haute Couture such as Charles Frederick Worth, Madeleine Vionnet or Paul Poiret, featured in the recent show ‘Harpers Bazaar’ of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris.
 

Photographies du Musée des Arts Décoratifs à Paris © MAD Paris



Kunang Helmi-Picard
Fatma Kunang Helmi was born in Yogjakarta, Indonesia. Education in Switzerland, Australia and... En savoir plus sur cet auteur

Cet article cite : musée des arts décoratifs




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