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Contrejour : Jean-Claude Gautrand: Recompositions


Contrejour presents Recompositions, the new book of Jean-Claude Gautrand.

“To photograph is to engage in a chase against oblivion, disappearance, nothingness. It is a fight against time, a challenge to forgetfulness. (…) It is an unstoppable weapon against cultural genocides or voluntary abandonment; the counterpoison to passivity.”

Jean-Claude Gautrand was only 24 years old when he discovered the work of German photographer Otto Steinert, founder of “Subjektive Fotografie” and follower of formal rigor bordering on abstraction. For the young Gautrand, it was a real aesthetic shock. From then on, he continued to develop poetry through images where graphics, matter and light are the essential components of a fundamentally engaged work.

Marked as much by the traces of a bygone era as by the way in which man perpetually transforms his environment, Jean-Claude Gautrand witnessed the upheavals and injustices of his time. From the construction of the Paris ring road to the destruction of the Halles de Baltard, including the ecological disaster of the Pechiney factory and the remains of the Atlantic Wall built by the Nazis, all of Gautrand’s work is crossed by this need to create a barrier against oblivion. Echoing the words of philosopher Georges Santayana, his work reads like a warning: “Those who forget history are condemned to relive it.”


Born in 1932 in the heart of the Pas-de-Calais mining area, Jean-Claude Gautrand arrived in Paris at a very young age, and lived there his entire life. From 1945, he became interested in photography and stood out as one of the first photographers to present his images in series. A man of action, he founded the Gamma group in 1963 and then created the “Libre Expression” group in 1964 in order to promote new, creative and personal photography. The same year, he joined the 30×40 photographic club which defended the notion of author photography and became its president a few years later. In addition to his work as a photographer, he pursued a career as a journalist and wrote for several major French magazines. His photographs are the subject of numerous group and personal exhibitions, and appear in several public collections.


Two exhibitions by Jean-Claude Gautrand are scheduled for 2024:
– At Galerie Les Douches, in Paris, from May 29 to July 31
– At the Réattu Museum during the Rencontres d’Arles, from July 1 to September 29


Jean-Claude Gautrand: Recompositions
Éditions Contrejour
Preface by Hervé Le Goff
Texts by Jean-Claude Gautrand
Size: 17 x 23 cm
104 pages
Price: 30 euros

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