For 35 years Robert Pujade will lead conferences and debates at festivals.He focuses here on the birth of French photographic criticism through Michel Nuridsany, Hervé Guibert and Christian Caujolle.
When, in 1980, the director of the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie asked me to assure the daily debates between the invited photographers and the festival’s public, I did not suspect that this adventure would last 35 years, nor that it would decide my future as a writer and researcher. Over the years, I have prepared some of the most famous photographers on the planet to endure the ordeal of a confrontation with a public that is not always easy and whose sometimes contrasting reactions I tried to appease. It is in this context that I met at the beginning of my activity, Christian Caujolle and Hervé Guibert, respectively reviewer for Libération and Le Monde. I was fascinated by their apparent ability to write relevant texts about photographers on a daily basis; as opposed to my slowness as a university researcher. I wanted to understand how they found their sources of inspiration and what their documentary resources were. I owe it to Christian Caujolle for devoting much of his time to addressing these issues with me and giving me access to newspaper archives. There followed a doctoral thesis of more than a thousand pages, The Birth of Photographic review in France between 1970 and 1985.
The following few lines are not a summary, but a very brief rewriting of the chapter devoted to the implementation of the photographic section of Le Figaro, Le Monde and Libération, a tribute to these writers journalists who contributed to the tremendous growth of photography, at a time when its creativity was unknown to the general public.
From 1971 in Le Figaro, from 1977 in Le Monde and from 1978 in Libération, a review section, concerning news of the photographic production, was set up on a regular basis. This section followed by the same editor, that is to say, respectively for each of the dailies mentioned, Michel Nuridsany, Hervé Guibert and Christian Caujolle.
Two observations lead to consider the creation of these sections as an important event in the history of photography:
First of all, these reviews were unprecedented in the national daily press. If articles had occasionally been devoted to exhibitions or major events in on photographic news, it had never been the subject of a regular and specialized information for the readers of national newspapers. From the development of these quasi-daily reviews, photographic creation became the subject of continuous information.
– On the other hand, the reviewers of photography conducted their newly born column for a very long time which is a remarkable phenomenon: these writers were in charge of their column, at least until 1985(1), thus developing, alongside theoretical research on photography or the specialized press, a personal discourse on the contemporaneity of photography and its aesthetic value.
That photography appears as an original subject in these dailies is not only about the novelty of the rubrics created. This originality is also due to the fact that between 1970 and 1980 in France, photography was not yet recognized as a mode of cultural expression on par with those that are followed and promoted by a critic who is both active and traditional. . Not only cultural institutions, such as galleries or museums, but also theoretical, historical or aesthetic research, show little interest in photography.
But even more than the rubric, which could only correspond to an ordering of the cultural pages of a daily newspaper, the intervention of a specialized editor is the sign that photography is perceived as a distinct cultural object, endowed with a life of its own, which will develop with events requiring special attention and expertise. Thus, this incipient journalistic review constitutes, in a historical context where photography is not yet thought about, a particular determination for the poorly known image.
These three characteristics – the subject, the regular section and the specialized editor – developed by Le Figaro, Le Monde, and Liberation all contribute to the birth of a particular form of discourse on photography. Birth rather than beginning, because if one began to write on photography, in the newspapers or elsewhere, well before this period, the remarks made then were not part of this new happening.
Setting up the first rubrics
It is up to Michel Nuridsany to have played a pioneering role in journalistic reviewing, a role all the more difficult as photography was not recognized at all by the general public to whom he addressed himself. He addresses this mission in a more unfavorable context than that experienced by Hervé Guibert and Christian Caujolle. It was necessary to take photography out of oblivion, where it had been held for nearly forty years, to convince and teach a subject that was a priori uninteresting for the readers of the major national dailies. During the years 1977 and 1978, when Hervé Guibert and Christian Caujolle started the same endeavor in their respective daily, photography is already established in structures that represent it and has become, by the same token, more worthy to constitute an element of periodic information.
Nevertheless, in each case, the initial development of these critical activities in the daily newspapers is an issue from a dual point of view:
– On the one hand, is the journalistic information on photography sufficiently abundant and attractive to develop a regular column in one and then three national dailies?
– on the other hand, does this endeavor has any meaning for the readers who discover it and can it change its cultural practices?
This dual concern seemed to be dominant in the setting up of each of these critical headings, the analysis of which should update the critical status granted to each of the holders of these headings, the place of each in the institutional location where he writes and the criteria of relevance that he deploys for the collection of information.
The beginnings of Michel Nuridsany (1969-1973).
The first two years during which Michel Nuridsany started writing at Le Figaro seem to be exclusively reserved to informations on technological innovations or practical and technical advice to make successful photographs in special circumstances. During this period the place given to these articles in the daily is meaningful: the texts are inserted either in the pages entitled “Tourism and Leisure”, or in the weather pages. Almost nothing distinguishes these writings from those that can be read at the same time in the magazine “Photo”, if it is not for a detail that has symbolic importance: Michel Nuridsany signs his articles.(2)
From 1971, the section in the Figaro gained importance and we can see the emergence of an autonomous photographic review gradually liberated, from the technical horizon that Michel Nuridsany had set for himself until now. the. In fact, if we put aside the six articles which are still that year only technical, it remains that the set of articles develops four new directions that give the photographic critic its conditions of possibility and existence. These four orientations are as follows:
a) a stance taken for photography and an opposition to contemporary art. For example, the Figaro article of May 5, 1971 titled The best photographs of Paris-Match reporters, is an opportunity to establish a specific and qualitative difference between photography and contemporary art: While contemporary art as a whole, tends to cut itself off from life, sclerose itself and is lost in formal research, these photographers, humbly, but with force, show us in all its crudity, life … it is the human comedy that these reporters give us to see.
b) the review of important events.
Eighteen articles are devoted to events in 1971 against eight only for technical news. The review of events relatively important for photography, represents a historical date according to the critic of Figaro: The year 71 will mark a date in the history of photography in France? The creation of multiple photography galleries in Paris, the stronger commitment of the public for these events incline us to think it. The publication of this book(3), which makes it possible to hope for the same evolution in book publishing, confirms this impression. (Le Figaro, 12/21/1971)
The beginning of Michel Nuridsany’s review thus coincided with the first signs of a new cultural boom in favor of photography.
c) the discovery of exceptional personalities in the medium of photographers.
The need to promote photography on a par with art led Michel Nuridsany to create geniuses. His personal enthusiasm for David Hamilton’s work led him to write an article in which the photographer became one of the greatest in terms of literature and art history. The article was entitled “In the shadow of the young girls in bloom” and began with a general lyrical outpouring on the languid body of young girls who inevitably make us think of Nabokov and … Hamilton. (The Figaro, 02/09/1971)
The other “leading light” in photographic creation is Ernst Haas, author of the book, The Creation. The virtuosity of the photographer, one of the greatest of the moment, is matched by the superlatives he evokes (“stupefying beauty”, “lyricism of an incredible force”, etc.) and all this praise for the Creation ends with a sentence composed of two comparatives: “Like Michelangelo, like Haydn”. (The Figaro, 21/12/1971)
This business of promoting geniuses in photography remains in solidarity with the fight for the defense of photography which is unknown in its creative dimension and which, for this reason, justifies a journalistic rubric to make it come out of oblivion.
d) the search for exhibitions with different interests.
The first three orientations of this emerging critic have assured him possible foundations, it remains then to ensure the review of photographic events on a regular basis. But in this young review, a singular characteristic appears as a dodge to answer the difficulty of finding a language adapted to photographic criticism. The positive appreciation of the works uses a subterfuge which consists of a comparative drift: photography, even poorly known, is the equal to other recognized arts of which we can speak more easily.
Thus, the article on Francisque Hidalgo begins and ends with the affirmation: Francisque Hidalgo is an impressionist photographer (Le Figaro, 24/11/1971), David Bailey is compared to Antonioni (Le Figaro, 21/06/1971) , Lee Friedlander ensures the “synthesis between abstract art and figurative art” (idem). This critical speech has a double challenge: on the one hand, it pursues the mission of defending photography by placing it, during various reviews, on the same level as other arts or literature. On the other hand, it is necessary to accredit also the criticism itself which exists nowhere else, and to put it on the same plane as those which are entitled to rubrics.
We can now see how the four orientations taken by Michel Nuridsany at the beginning of his activities as a critic, are part of a coherent strategy to which the development of photography is linked. France and the birth of a criticism concerning it. The problem of the relationship between photography and art becomes the essential problem of this criticism, since it justifies its fighting dimension, while at the same time giving the mission of the critic a strictly political role, since by encouraging the public to consider photography as a parent of the greatest works of art, it can hope to change cultural, economic and social practices.
The intervention of Hervé Guibert (1977-1985).
Photography is present in the columns of Le Monde before 1977, first of all with articles signed Roger Bellone which are only concerned with photographic technique and which appear occasionaly, not constituting a heading with fixed frequency. Moreover, while Le Monde publishes articles on important events or events concerning photography, this is never the work of a specialized critic, nor is there a particular section on the page of the arts and shows.(4)
To capture the originality of the installation of this review in Le Monde, it is interesting to refer to a quick biography of Hervé Guibert written by Agathe Gaillard and published by the city of Nîmes, on the occasion of the ” Hervé Guibert retrospective ” (5) which took place in this city from July 8 to August 15, 1992:” In 1977, after making film reviews for several magazines, he joined the newspaper “Le Monde”, where he was entrusted with photography review. This is the beginning of the great expansion of photography and he is part of this generation of young critics who discover photography at the same time as the public. Ignoring both the history of photography and its practice, more easily relating to young artists than to the great masters who intimidate him, he is similar to the public, an ideal public, sensitive, intelligent, assiduous and like it often seduced, never won … “
This biographical detail, emanating from a person close to Hervé Guibert, tends to establish that the critical skill of the critic consists more of having been able to blend in with the audience, to play the role of an “ideal audience”, rather than having shown practical or theoretical knowledge, especially knowledge on the history of photography. But what is surprising is the speed with which the critic section acqired an important frequency: twenty-nine articles between September 22nd and December 1977.
a) The critical review.
As soon as he started the photographic section, Hervé Guibert quickly proposed a planning. As early as October, in addition to the substantial articles developed on a particular exhibition, he tried to set up a sort of schedule of exhibitions or publications: smaller articles are then grouped into a column that takes first the name “Photo Notes”, then: “The day of the photo“.
His first photography review on September 22 led him to write about an exhibition of American photographers, and a book by Bill Brandt (6). In the first article, Hervé Guibert talks about the gap that exists between the images of America that have been “embedded in our heads by the great epics of American cinema” and “aesthetics of despair” of the images of the twelve photographers exposed.
The angle from which he approached these great photographers (William Eggleston, Clarence J. Laughlin, Ralph E. Meatyard, Jerry Uelsman, Eduardo del Valle (7)) is quite singular: he questionned the photographs about what they do not show ( the men, the life) and it is his experience that he invokes against that of the photographers to say: “But this world is false“. The recension of the exhibition is thus the transcription of an experience, that of the confrontation between his imaginary and the photographed objects, and nothing is said about the quality of the images, their composition or their technique, nor about the photographers.
One could interpret, without doubt, in this way of questioning photographs from what they represent, as the expression of a certain naivety, the fact of a man who really discovers photography for the first time. This view would be consistent with testimony that he knew nothing about the history of photography and its practice. But this would not correspond, on the one hand, to the constant seriousness of his critical work, and on the other hand to the permanence of this attitude of discovery, to this way of reporting the event, put in the presence of his own sensitivity and that of the photographers, after giving the climate of a work (8).
The first writings on photography give the general tone of what will make the originality of this photographic criticism: photography is first of all for him a pre-text, that is to say a predisposition to writing only if the objects it shows resound on the person who looks at it. This dual relationship that Hervé Guibert instituted between the photographers and himself imposes the rules of the game of criticism, which are put in place from the year 1977.
b) The relationship to the photographers.
In this year of 1977, we would look in vain for superlatives inciting this or that photographer. Photography is not approached by reference to its great men (9), or by its structure, but by its “effects” (10) from the objects it creates. On the very biography of the photographers, Hervé Guibert remains discreet, as if this practical information disturbed his writing impetus. One can notice how much Bill Brandt’s biographical elements are instilled in small doses in the course of the descriptions that his images allow. On the other hand, the last major article of that year, devoted to the F / 64 group, is the occasion of an intimate biographical essay on Immogen Cunningham and quick precisions on Edward Weston and Ansel Adams.
Neither do we see frank negative criticism. Nothing really negative is written about American photographers or their images in the first article of 1977: the subject is about the content of what is represented. In fact, if the value judgment is not necessarily necessary, it is because in the critical attitude, the encounter with the other takes precedence over the images that are the pretext. In the article on Jan Saudek, Hervé Guibert invokes psychoanalysis for a reading of photos that would, no doubt, go further than letting himself be carried by the show: “He develops his own images , a bit like composing a fantasy … His photos are above all ideas of photos. He set up these ideas which seem to be imposed on him with the evidence of the dream, the obsession. ” If photography can go back to the mental core of the person who creates it, the criticism becomes a confrontation of personalities.
This idea about the mental or fantasmatic origin of photographs will come to Hervé Guibert, since in his essay The Ghost Image ,(11) he will write three texts that he called “Fantasy of Photography“. These texts are the opposite of the one borrowed from Jan Saudek’s article; they go from the expressed fantasy to the possible image and develop ideas of photographs that already support themselves, since they can find body in writing.
This coming and going, between the thought that is written and the image that is made, situates the conditions of the possibilities of a common ground between the text and the image and a meeting between the critic and the photographer.
c) The effects of photography.
But of this meeting, precisely, will be born either a ground of agreement or harmony which will allow the pen of the critic to be inspired by the objects preserved by the photographer, that is a balance of power in which the critic will be too much (or too little) affected by the images.
The photographs of Diane Arbus give rise to a quick comment because they hurt.
They have too much effect, we no longer know what is the normal and the abnormal, words that are usually put in quotation marks, by decency. (Le Monde 11/09/1977). The photographs of West Berlin by Gabriele and Helmut Nothhelfer give rise to a long comment because of their apparent austerity that hides something else: With the air of nothingness, they are scary. The insignificance is not long becoming threatening (20/10/1977)
These effects are too impressive to show that the novice critic expects something from photography that finds its formulation only in terms of simplicity (about Andre Martin or Bill Brandt), standard (about Guy Le Querrec) , or banality (about Denis Gheerbrant). These terms not only describe the “effects” of photography, but also refer to resonance indices between photographs and critical writing, and they situate the harmonious relationships that can arise within the couple of personalities in the face of criticism.
The approach to photography by the effects that it releases, engenders, in its positive version, the median solution and the atmosphere of good understanding that allow the critic to find himself in the images he promotes. On the horizon of the photographs which are thus in the medium where the effects of the image meet the expectations of the spectator, a text is to be born because two imaginary ones communicate. Criticism becomes the space of an exchange between the image and the text.
d) The bias of life against art
Hervé Guibert situates the principle of a possible agreement between the photographic vision and the writing that accounts for it in what he calls life. This concept of life is explicitly mentioned many times in the 1977 texts and it is one of the most recurrent terms in all its criticisms, even to the point of constituting a criterion for the appreciation of photographs.
Two critiques published the same day are organized around this notion.
In “ The Aesthetics of the Sordid The “, dedicated to Jan Saudek, it is from life that the article is introduced: “Yan Saudek, (sic) is not someone who walks through life waiting to be stunned by an image … “, and concludes: He speaks of life only indirectly, by representations and symbols (Le Monde, 13/10/1977)
In “The Surprised Banality“, dedicated to Guy Le Querrec, it is said that “his work is never dissociated from life …“, then after a first description of the work: “Le Querrec gives a rather good-looking vision of life“. Subsequently, after having evoked the images of the “rather terrifying” everydayness of the French on vacation, Hervé Guibert writes: We do not want to laugh, we recognize ourselves, we say to ourselves: life is that, and after, it would be dishonest to say that it is horrible … (Le Monde, 13/10/1977)
This concluding remark is important because it sheds light on this notion of life which appears as an operative concept in all the critical work, but without ever being theoretically defined. (It must be recognized that the theoretical definition of this notion is infinitely problematic.
From the beginning of his intervention in Le Monde, Hervé Guibert instituted a literary form of photographic criticism while preserving, in his critical writing, his personality as a writer-spectator, which he confronts to the eyes of photographers. The set of texts of this beginning in 1977 already supports Agathe Gaillard’s retrospective commentary on the whole of his critical work: He is neither judge nor teacher, but gives an answer, unfair sometimes, but real. He does not militate, remains reserved and independent, but he sees.
The arrival of Christian Caujolle.
In November 1978, when Christian Caujolle began his work as a critic, photography did not have a regular section in Libération. The relationship of important events was ensured by journalists assigned to other specialties, such as Bernard Dufour who wrote on painting. It took the change of the editorial policy of the newspaper, in 1978, with a frank orientation toward photographic information, so that a journalistic specialty appears necessary in this field and that one finds a vacant place.
From the beginning of the year 1979, Christian Caujolle gave to his critical section its original and regular aspect. In addition to the articles devoted exclusively to an event, a weekly leaflet entitled “Photo-hebdo” which is a real guide to photographic exhibitions. The originality of this weekly page is not only to report on the exhibitions visible in Paris, but to keep readers informed of what is happening in the province. Each week is introduced by a note of atmosphere on the present state of the photographic creation and often concludes with a mood note. In addition, all the exhibitions on offer are accompanied by a brief commentary on most of their content, which provides an opportunity for Christian Caujolle to produce writing variations on events that last for several weeks.
With regard to the feature articles, centered on an event, they talked as well of confirmed photographers (William Klein, Édouard Boubat, Bruce Davidson, etc.),and of anthology retrospectives (Eugène Atget, the Seeberger or the Reutlinger) or minor events.
The rubric thus organizes itself around a double rhythm of writing and reporting which gives it an authentically journalistic dimension: the weekly guide, abundantly provided, lends to photography a place as important as that allocated in the newspaper to other manifestations of the arts and shows. It takes stock of the doubts and hopes that photography experiences every day. Isolated articles which deepen the promptly commented advertisements of the guide tend to establish a public knowledge of the world of photographers. To achieve this, Christian Caujolle goes beyond the simple review of photographic events. He uses the interview technique, the author’s presentation, the biography, the personalized narrative that allows a more intimate introduction to the photographers’ milieu, or the poetic reverie of the photographs.
In fact, this double movement in critical writing corresponds both to the concern for information specific to journalism, but also to the idea that the critic makes of a history of photography that remains to be written and that he will say a little later: Two histories of photography are possible. The one who wants to be globalizing and the one who would like to curl the daily doubts of photography (Libération, 22/06/1983). The system put in place during 1979 is consistent with these two possible stories, and it reveals three characteristics that will be found throughout the critical work.
a) An extended critic
The first aspect of this nascent critique is that it aims to account for as many manifestations as possible. This is the mission that fulfills “Photo-hebdo“: to report as widely as possible on events in Paris and province. Christian Caujolle does not hesitate to stress, in his introduction to some of his columns, the performance that represents his determination to go around the exhibitions. Thus, on May 2, he writes under the title Des expos, always expos: Doing the tour of galleries that are currently exposing photography is proving to be a more exhausting exercise (sic). There are some everywhere and in some galleries, the pace is so fast that there is almost no time to watch that everything is already off the hook and replaced by the new “expo of the month”. It inevitably leads to seeing as much photoclub work as exhibitions built and justified.
This apparently innocuous remark, which resembles so many others written during the “Photo-hebdo” of this year 1979 (12), shows how he does his job: to visit everything that comes up and to report on things to see.
The critical work consists first of all in a selection of the information which is carried out by elimination of the productions of amateurs, represented at this period by the activities of photo-clubs which appear throughout the critics like the height of bad taste.
But this selection does not have the effect of simply promoting the good taste recognized by the official news of photography. Criticism must also reveal unseen initiatives that make a worthy contribution to photographic creation and research. This is the case of the presentation of the editions “Phot’oeil” which gives the opportunity of the first article of the year, or the book L’ami Pierre (13), directed by Jean-Philippe Jourdrin: it is by their announcement commented in the newspaper that these two initiatives come to the attention of the public. In the same way, the “Photo-hebdo” of April 17th will announce the publication of an Algerian book El Djazaïr which finds its place in the heading, taking into account the difficulties of the Algerian edition. Finally, in the context of this extended criticism, the heading Photo-hebdo reveals talents that will be confirmed later: Bernard Faucon (14) and Jean-Claude Larrieu, for example.
This first characteristic of Christian Caujolle’s criticism seems to show his attachment to a vivid photograph, in search, and liberated from a quest for great photography or the geniuses that would constitute it. Christian Caujolle brings to this criticism, by his means of investigation, the dimension of the professional journalism which he lacked.
b) Journalistic criticism.
The second characteristic of this review is its perfect integration in the newspaper Libération. The variations of tone borrowed by Christian Caujolle give his chronicle the living side of a soap opera. One could quote in this respect, the reports of the Rencontres d’Arles which from year to year, are presented as a serial with episodes, where the critic is in turn violent, mocking, admiring and always very personally involved in the restitution that he is doing of the event. For the year 1979, a presentation of the program is proposed in the form of a fiction where a visitor of the Rencontres would be welcomed by the great photographers and would benefit from these Rencontres under ideal conditions.
The section gradually follows the general tone of the newspaper known for its play on words titles and for its free speech. For the titles of the articles, the year 1979 gives the impression that the young critic, quite filled with the seriousness of his new office, is somewhat constrained. As far as the language used, Christian Caujolle handles, according to the circumstances, different levels of language. Most articles are written in everyday language, without any preciousness, nor a search for a formula. But he occasionally uses a popular language; this may be because of the mimicry with the subject treated: “Little guys in Berlin“, for example, or in the article devoted to the photographer William Klein who, having been explicitly defined as a photographer of the street, authorizes the language of the street: “He does what he likes, he annoys everyone … and, in the whole world of photography, it screams that it’s really shit … (23/02 / 1979) In other places, this popular language is intended to manifest his bad mood. It is the space Canon gallery that received the pangs of the anger most strongly expressed: One will not speak of it any more because it is to vomit: “Beyond”, with the gallery Canon /…/ This shopping window /…/ is laughing at our face once more … (22/05/1979)
But we can notice that this language of bad mood, which neither explains nor describes anything, is however the indicator of a critical threshold: the one where, precisely, the critical writing is placed in front of the unspeakable . The level of language used is therefore not only a subterfuge intended to make the heading more readable or livelier, but the mark, in some cases, of the border between what is critical and what is not. the object: “… an exhausting season is coming up, close to the photographic inflation with its usual lot of good surprises and disgust (10/09/1979)
This demarcation that separates the photographic as such from the simple illustration, is already part of the didactic aspect of this section.
c) A didactic rubric
The arrival of Christian Caujolle is concomitant to a real explosion of photographic events, particularly in and around Paris which will see the following year, the Month of Photography in 1980.
Its initial activity is therefore linked to the urgent need to sort out, at a time when photography is discovered as a total phenomenon, that is to say not only aesthetic, but historical, technical, scientific and economic. It is therefore urgent to educate the public about the only events that have been created that represent the work of photographers in conditions worthy of the seriousness of their business. Hence the importance of the hunt for amateurism since 1979: it is not only about aesthetics of taste against photo clubs, but about all the conditions of exposure and presentation of photographs.
This is what makes controversial criticism of the Rencontres d’Arles exemplary this year: Christian Caujolle explains very clearly that an event that wants to represent photography in an international way can not afford to tinker with the presentation of photography authors. “What was a nice amateurism yesterday, today becomes an unbearable lack of seriousness … It should think about the show as a setting with severe representation of undeniable images” (15).
It is no longer, as for Michel Nuridsany, to make known the existence of photography as an art in its own right (16), or even to discover photography, as did Hervé Guibert whose pen retranscribed the eyes of an “ideal public“, to use the expression of Agathe Gaillard. It is about installing a knowledge of photography, the works and the authors.
This will be the task of this new criticism, which is essentially information-oriented, and less so than others in value judgments. It will, indeed, be less formulated in terms of good or bad photographs, – which would risk returning to the questions of amateurism or the denaturation of photography by American merchants (17) – but in terms of analysis and frequenting the world of photographers.
And to perfect this knowledge of photography as a total phenomenon, the criticism will have the function not only of contributing to the history of the photographers, but also of detecting in the development of the photographic technique, the elements that can allow a better understanding of the issues it poses in the economic and social system.
This didactic attitude, which is also a defense of photography, is not just about the critic’s personalized culture. It seems to impose itself because of the considerable development of photographic manifestations from 1979.
With the arrival of Christian Caujolle, photography has reached adulthood: it is this realization that reveals his first year of reviewing at Libération, and it is the respect of this majority that the critic will strive to protect.
(1) It is at the end of the year 1985 that Hervé Guibert and Christian Caujolle will stop their critical activity in their newspapers
(2) Sign of the little prestige of the function of writing on photography, the technical articles of “Photo” are never signed until the 80s: it is almost the same for the presentations of portfolios in the same magazine. During the same period, the magazine “ZOOM”, more widely devoted to photography, sometimes precedes the review of a portfolio of a short presentation text with a prestigious signature.
(3) This is The Creation of Ernst Haas, Le Chêne, 1971.
(4) For an exhaustive analysis of the texts concerning photography in Le Monde preceding the first texts of Hervé Guibert, see Robert PUJADE, Birth of the Photographic Critic, ch. I, 2, B.
(5) Retrospective realized with the help of the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie of Arles.
(6) Le Monde, 22-09-1977: Shadows and Light, ed Le Chêne, 1977.
(7) The only names he quotes from the twelve photographers on display.
(8) In one of his last articles in Le Monde, Hervé Guibert thematize the notion of “atmosphere” as a vocative power internal to the image and directed to the imaginary of the viewer. (M. from 14-11-1985)
(9) When Brassaï is quoted, for example, about Bill Brandt (M. of 22-09-1977), it is not to advance a model of photographer, but to evoke an atmosphere, and the name of the great photographer is then part of the descriptive material of Hervé Guibert’s text.
(10) The term “effect” is sometimes used by Hervé Guibert in the strong sense of the viewer’s hold on the power of the image. (see about Diane Arbus, The World of 9-11-1977).
(11) L’Image Fantôme, ed Minuit, 1981, pp. 31, 87, and 127.
(12) On the same observation of an inflation of photography exhibitions that year, cf. L. of 8-05, 19-06, 10-09, 18-09, 02-10, 09-10, 06-11 and 27-11-1979. In this last article dated December 4, we read: “Would there be a fashion for photography? … The amateurism and rough approximations that surround some of these noisy promotions could scare away those who are really starting to take an interest in it.”
(13) L. of 3-04-1979. Jean-Philippe JOURDRIN, L’ami Pierre, Paris, Duculot, 1979.
(14) L. 17-04, 3-05, 8-05 and 22-05-1979. On the consequences of this broader and more revealing criticism, which is not limited to the mere production of an article, the testimony of Christian Caujolle is enlightening: “I was also able to share my favorites. For Bernard Faucon and Jean-Claude Larrieu, among others … that Agathe welcomed and showed when no one was really interested in them. “In Souvenir d’Agathland, op. cit., p 10.
(15) This article alone summarizes most of the controversies that will arise in the following years about the Encounters: it focuses on “the dimensions of amateurism“. L. of 25-07-1979.
(16) It may even be said that this question appears in Christian Caujolle’s criticism as an “epistemological obstacle“, in the sense that the philosopher Bachelard understood it, to the knowledge of photography. cf. for example L. of 27-11 and 11-12-1979.
(17) Against confusions about the (economic and aesthetic) values of photography, cf. L. of 25-07-1979 where Arles appears threatened by the intrusion of the merchants, and L. of 9-10-1979 where Christian Caujolle raved against the gallery Zabriskie who sells “vintage prints”.