I’m a fan of The Eye of Photography. Thanks to it I’ve been introduced to the work of many exciting photographers. But sometimes errors creep into its columns, including one that was so inaccurate, and so gratuitously vicious, that I jumped out of my chair. (“Pierre Houlès Ses amis : The French Mafia“)
It was an article about Pierre Houlès, who in the 1970s worked with Jean-Paul Goude on his early photographs. Jean-Paul has been my friend since the 1950s, and I am deeply familiar with all his work. I also knew Pierre Houlès at the time he was helping Goude on his photographs. I remember him as a charming guy whose acerbic sense of humor I appreciated. Goude was then known as the artistic director of Esquire and as an illustrator.
Jean-Paul did indeed ask for Pierre’s help in the creation of his photos. I remember their friendship well, how they worked and and laughed together. But let’s set the record straight: Jean-Paul may have relied on Pierre for the technical aspect of the work, for location scouting and casting, but it was always Jean-Paul giving the instructions, and he was solely responsible for his style and ideas.
In our great country [France], rare is the artist who has never copied or stolen an idea from another, and Jean-Paul is the most compelling example. I watched him pursue the same ideas and obsessions, and I challenge anyone to prove that he ever appropriated—even a single time—the work or ideas of another. No one before Jean-Paul had taken an interest in the American black and Hispanic communities. That world belonged to him alone.
In fact, as I recall, Jean-Paul was the first to acknowledge Pierre Houlès’ gifts. And I’m sure that Jean-Paul would be surprised by these petty attacks against his friend, launched by people who, as is often the case in France, resent anyone who achieves success through originality.
Dedicating an article to Pierre Houlès and his talent was a wonderful idea, but I am always amazed how, in France, we’re unable to speak well of someone without speaking ill of another.
Jean-Paul had nothing to do with this little correction. I alone am responsible.
Jean Marie Périer