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Galerie Roger-Viollet : Boris Lipnitzki, Russian photographer and chronicler of Paris in the 1930s


The Galerie Roger-Viollet presents from October 12, 2023 to January 20, 2024 the exhibition “Boris Lipnitzki, Russian photographer chronicler of Paris in the 1930s”.

Haïm Lipnitzky discovered photography from his earliest years. Music is his other passion. Faced with pogroms and revolutions, the Lipnitzkys, of Jewish faith, abandoned Ukraine and arrived in France in the 1920s. The young man took the name Boris Lipnitzki and became a photographer. The aristocracy in exile introduces Boris to the fashion designer Paul Poiret who entrusts him with his collections to photograph. Boris launches into the portrait of aristocrats, broadens his activities to the press. The young emigrant feels his time has come, he opens his own studio.

The Lipnitzki studio: 109, rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré (1922-1936)

Composers Igor Stravinsky and Serge Prokofiev flock to the Parisian studio. Lipnitzki speaks Russian with the painters Vassily Kandinsky and Marc Chagall, whose portraits he made. The world of music is very present with Maurice Ravel, but also the group of six Arthur Honegger, Louis Durey, Germaine Tailleferre, Georges Auric, Darius Milhaud and Jean Cocteau. He portrays those he venerates. Until 1924, he covered Poiret’s parties for the Tout Paris in his private mansion and continued his reporting in fashionable places such as the Molitor swimming pool, the seaside resorts of Deauville, Monaco and Saint-Jean-de-Luz.

From 1922 to 1939, Lipnitzki worked for numerous couturiers. Coco Chanel, posed for him in her workshop on the rue Cambon. He collaborated with Elsa Schiaparelli and Cristóbal Balenciaga, photographs their models published in Femina, Le Jardin des modes, Marie-Claire, Vogue.

The studio’s activities seduced and attracted music hall celebrities and famous singers: Édith Piaf, Josephine Baker, Yves Montant; cinema and theater: Carl Dreyer, Buster Keaton, Louis Jouvet in full Don Juan seducer attire, Albert Dieudonné as Napoleon for the Abel Gance’s film. The world of arts and letters, very present in the press, gave an opportunity for portraits: Giorgio De Chirico, Léonor Fini, Foujita, Pablo Picasso for painters, André Breton, Colette, Marguerite Duras, James Joyce, Jacques Prévert, Jean- Paul Sartre, Boris Vian for writers. These personalities themselves contributed to Lipnitzki’s fame.

The Lipnitzki studio: 40, rue du Colisée (1936-1939)

In 1936, Lipnitzki settled near the Champs-Élysées. In less than twenty years, the emigrant had become a celebrity. The studio invited those who marked the century. Fashion remained a vital sector of activity. Boris had expanded his circle, but remained faithful to the theater. From 1938, the studio declined. In September 1940, he ceased all activity. A provisional administrator was appointed to manage Jewish property. In May 1941, thanks to the American journalist Varian Fry, he embarked from Marseille.

In 1943, he moved to New York welcomed by Chagall. In 1945, he returned to Paris, recovered his belongings, and now took care of the shooting practically alone. At the age of seventy-eight, on July 8, 1965, he closed the studio. Boris Lipnitzki died in Paris in 1971.

The photos of Boris Lipnitzki and of the Lipnitzki studio were acquired by the Roger-Viollet agency in 1970, representing more than a million negatives. They are preserved by the Historical Library of the City of Paris (BHVP) and are distributed exclusively by the Roger-Viollet Gallery. 76 contemporary prints in numbered editions will be offered for sale during the exhibition at the Roger-Viollet Gallery.


Boris Lipnitzki, photographe russe chroniqueur du Paris des années trente
from October 12, 2023 to January 20, 2024
Galerie Roger-Viollet
6, rue de Seine
75006 Paris
Tél. : 01 55 42 89 00

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