The Fnac, France’s leading retailer of cultural products, lends great importance to photography. It sells cameras, organises photography competitions, opens and runs galleries and has had its own photograph collection since 1978… This collection includes up to 1800 prints and covers the major trends in photographic history. This exhibition will cover three areas, the thirties avant-garde movement, the humanists and the representatives of the photo agency Magnum.
When Max Théret founded the Fnac in 1954, he readily admitted that he deliberately chose a name that “snaps like Kodak” for the brand. This explicit reference to photography can be seen as the starting point of the brand’s involvement that is still going strong over half a century later. Under Théret’s direction, and that of André Essel, photography took centre stage at the Fnac: in 1956, it began selling cameras and equipment, followed by photography competitions for clients and the photo galleries were inaugurated in 1969. Thanks to touring exhibitions, meet and greets with photographers, publishing, sponsorship of institutional initiatives, the Fnac soon became a major player in photographic circles in France and Europe. These initiatives had a number of aims: to sell photographic equipment of course, to support creativity and artists, to bring a different perspective to the other cultural products on sale at the Fnac, to make the stores into true living spaces where cultural debate flourished and to encourage the public to reflect on current affairs through photography. From 1978, the Fnac started a collection that has been continuously enriched ever since, curated first by Gil Mijangos, then by Laura Serani. The approach is wide-ranging and the collection has always been a great showcase for diversity in photography. All of the major trends are covered: humanism, war photography, thirties avant-garde, fashion photography etc. The collection bears witness to the activities of the photographic galleries and represents the effort made by the Fnac to educate and satisfy the taste of all of its potential clients. The Fnac’s photographic collection reflects photography in all its diversity, providing a timeline to a certain idea of its history. Above all, it provides a certain view of the world.
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Musée Nicéphore Niépce
28, Quai des Messageries 71100 Chalon-sur-Saône, France
October 14, 2017 to January 15, 2018