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Jean Dieuzaide: Photography First

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Jean Dieuzaide was my only photographic reference when in 1968 I timidly entered his house on rue Erasme in Toulouse to get some wise advice. At the time, he was nearly 50 and still signing his pictures with a graphic and shaky Yan, an impetuous signature, like the Z for Zorro that he used to hide his true name, for in bourgeois families, one didn’t work as a photographer. This scholarly man, recognized throughout the world, put photography on such an unreachable pedestal, this seemingly serious man hidden behind an unusual haircut and stately glasses, what could he possibly think of this stuttering dishevelled young man showing him tortured, superimposed psychedelic prints? In any case, his classical convictions more than his eye were unrelenting and direct, his criticism abrupt without damaging the integrity of my imagination that our meeting was in the end rather stimulating and productive. In a way, he wasn’t mistaken by encouraging me to be more rigorous in my print quality, but above all he gave me a photography lesson I had no idea about, teaching me the names of photographers that from this time on would come into my life through their books: Walker Evans, Alfred Stieglitz, Steichen, or Ansel Adams. If his subversive and revolutionary convictions were particularly simplistic, in time I had to admit that he wasn’t wrong. The future would reward me with more simple pictures, less effects, just showing the beauty of a moment, conforming with the exterior and interior world. From this time on, we became quite close, each in our respective careers, in love with life, with the Mediterranean, and with photography. Until his death in 2003, he sent a bouquet to my mother every year on mother’s day, a particularly delicate attention.

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