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Jean-Philippe Charbonnier : In 50’s China


It was in 1955 that Jean-Philippe Charbonnier left for China. Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Anshan, Wushi, Canton are as many places he traveled to and photographed  for a special issue on China that the magazine Realité published in June 1956  “China under a red mask”.

Like an acrobat, he went from the Peking Opera to that of Canton to end up in the steelworks of Anshan where “Chinese clad in asbestos work clothe unloaded the molten steel, 70 ° in front and 4 ° in the back . »(…) *.

Seduced by the city of Wushi where he capture the crowd, the children, the stalls, he was less charmed by Shanghai which he writes ” was very aggressive” . Six million inhabitants, a city full of improbabilities, absurd vestiges of a hostile past, dust and noise (…) *.

Jean-Philippe Charbonnier brought back several hundred of black and white and color pictures of this trip, of which Réalités only published the most exotic.


*Jean-Philippe Charbonnier Un photographe vous parle, Grasset 1961

Jean-Philippe Charbonnier. Raconter l’autre et l’ailleurs (1944-1983)


Jean-Philippe Charbonnier – Raconter l’autre et l’ailleurs (1944-1983)

from February 5 to April 19, 2020

Pavillon Populaire // Espace d’art photographique de la Ville de Montpellier

Esplanade Charles de Gaulle, 34000 Montpellier

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