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Janine Nièpce, beauty is in the streets


Ten years ago one of the first women in France to work as a photojournalist died. Born in 1921, a liaison officer at the heart of the Resistance, working with the agence Rapho and distant descendant of the inventor Nicéphore, she spent her whole life documenting the evolution of French society.

Her camera around her neck, Janine Nièpce told the story of the France that was being rebuilt, or was just being built, even if it meant failing, in the great tradition of the humanist photographers – Robert Doisneau, Willy Ronis, Edouard Boubat – carried along by the post-war momentum and the wind of poetic realism.

She said, “I photograph human beings as they live. I like to work alone, without a specific aim. You have to take the time. Don’t miss what, apart from the reporting, is a happy, fleeting coincidence. That’s how my best photographs are born. Everything happens very quickly; characters spotted, framed in the viewfinder, the looks, the significant gestures. I sense an emotion, I press the shutter. That’s what goes from my heart into the image, mysteriously. This job allows me many lives.”

Among the chapters that punctuated her work and left a long-lasting mark on her career: the factory, technical progress, and even rural life, following her Burgundian roots. But also events such as the “pretty” month of May 1968 or even the “pill” years in the wake of the Neuwirth Law… It was fifty years ago.

To mark this anniversary and as part of International Women’s Day on March 8th , the Polka Galerie in Paris is paying tribute to her work as a wink of an eye, shaped like a slogan but without geographical or chronological boundaries, “Beauty is in the streets”.


Janine Niépce
6th–17th March 2018
Polka Galerie
12 Rue Saint-Gilles
75003 Paris


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