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Arles 2023 : Réattu Museum : Jacques Léonard : The nomadic spirit


Photographs of Jacques Léonard hanging on the picture rails of the Musée Réattu for the Rencontres d’Arles 2023, in no way would we have missed a single image. While the most Spanish of French photographers from the end of the last millennium, has never been programmed in his native country (with the exception of a few images presented by Anne Clergue in her Arles gallery). The undertaking had been eagerly awaited and had been prepared for two years by bringing together the teams of the Réattu Museum with the “Fundacion Photographic Social Vision” of Barcelona, ​​which strives to safeguard, as best as possible, the collections of deceased photographers.

Unfortunately, what was presented under the best auspices, came up against an organizational failure and a delay in the delivery of wood ordered for the installation of the picture rails. It was therefore on the day of the opening that a temporary hanging was carried out in haste and in a way that defied all logic. Each visitor took part in the exhibition with his shadow cast by the powerful projectors behind him. We were unable to see the prints serenely. In addition, the mixed prints between original vintage and modern prints, the lack of homogeneity in the scenography (necessarily approximate on that day!) unconvincing and the selection of images presented among the large collection preserved by the Foundation, leave a taste of inadequacies.

We all know that the Réattu Museum (which has one of the most beautiful collections of photographs in France) has few financial means. But that can’t justify everything.

If you are coming, or passing thru Arles this summer, despite this mishap, you absolutely have to go and see this exhibition.

For in the abundant slough of photographs of social testimonials dripping all over and spreading everywhere, it is good to see real images that take us beyond the gelatin. When the power of the image exempts the author from any commentary (especially from his navel-gazing speeches and his muddy justifications), you will not regret these moments of dialogue.

Thierry Maindrault


Jacques Léonard : L’esprit nomade
May 27 to October 03, 2023
Musée Réattu
10 rue du Grand Prieuré
13200 Arles

10 a.m. to 6 p.m., except Mondays.

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