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Henry Leutwyler : Schein und Sein


Celebrity photography has made the success of the biggest magazines. We dream in front of the portraits of movie stars, artists, statesmen, musicians, sportsmen. When receiving an assignment, the pressure is great for the photographer who must not only meet the expectations of the magazines but also those of the personalities passing briefly in the studio. Henry Leutwyler knows something about the subject, he who worked for titles as prestigious as Vogue, the New York Times Magazine or Esquire and who portrayed personalities celebrated everywhere in the world. The exhibition is dedicated to these stars who make us vibrate so much when they are in the spotlight. When browsing the photographs, we do not see any faces. We must read the cartels to discover names as famous as Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon or Michael Jackson. Leutwyler presents us with a gallery of portraits of a new type.

The collection of objects photographed by Leutwyler is no less iconic as the portraits he publishes in magazines! Through his still life images, the photographer takes us into the intimacy of the big stars of the 20th century. Each of the objects exhibited here belonged to a celebrity. They were methodically photographed, as if they were evidences found on a crime scene. Isolated from their context, these objects – icons of the modern world – capture our attention. Authentic, used, they are the material witnesses of their owner. We observe them like we would with relics. Leutwyler invites us into the intimacy of celebrities in unprecedented fashion. When we discover the names of the owners, we project a load of unexpected emotional deal with objects that can be sometimes as innocuous as a pair of sneakers. The faces of the stars are reconstituted as magically in our brain. Discovering Michael Jackson’s stained shirt, Elvis Presley’s comb or the soles of Fred Astaire’s shoes project us in the private, the hidden. By taking us behind the scenes, as he does with the New York City Ballet dancers series, Leutwyler moves away from the public people we know about on stage, on screen, on glossy paper. He is interested in the human behind the icon.

Son and grandson of printers, Henry Leutwyler was born in Switzerland in 1961. He lived and worked as a photographer in Paris for ten years before opening his studio in New York in 1995. Leutwyler’s career spans more than thirty years and his images made the cover of Vanity Fair, Time or National Geographic. Parallel to assigment works, the photographer has developed personal series.

He owes his reputation to his portraits and his still lifes. His first book Neverland Lost: A Portrait of Michael Jackson is published in Steidl editions in 2010. It is followed in 2012 by a second book dedicated to the New York City Ballet, then Document, published in 2016. Working mainly as a magazine photographer, Leutwyler recently exhibited in New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Paris, Moscow, Madrid and Zurich. The MBAL offered him his first museum exhibition in 2017.

An exhibition of the Museum of Fine Arts, Le Locle, produced in collaboration with Fotofestival Lenzburg and Stapferhaus Lenzburg. Commissioner is Nathalie Herschdorfer, director of MBAL.


Henry Leutwyler : Schein und Sein

17.05.2019 – 17.06.2019

Musée des Beaux-Arts Le Locle

Stapferhaus – Lenzburg



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