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Masterpieces from the Walther collection n ° 1: “bye bye! “


(1/5) Throughout the duration of the exhibition at the Jeu de Paume in Paris of the exceptional Walther collection bequeathed to Moma, L’Œil de la Photographie focuses on one masterpiece in particular. Today, a fleeting portrait with a lively hand.

A broad smile which perhaps says that the subject enjoys being photographed this way, but a left hand which breaks the cliché, as if to stop the gesture in front and signify that he does not really want to be on film.

He is however a photographer himself, László Moholy Nagy, originally from Hungary who had to flee his country eleven years after this image, in 1934, caught in the infernal mechanics of the Second World War he too, the theoretician of the Bauhaus and great manipulator of the images with surrealist compositions in which light is a provocative and disturbing game, was classified “Degenerate artist” by the Nazis.

Is he saying goodbye or is he saying hello? Is he saluting for the photo or to the person holding the device?

There remains this strange portrait, taken from life at a time when street photography had barely appeared, developed into so many urban pictures seized on the fly.

Besides, László Moholy Nagy does not seem to be in an interior, but rather walking down the street of a big city. Budapest? Berlin? London?

The photographing machine then becomes the propagator of  the stroll, the latter being theorized by the philosopher Walter Benjamin at about the same time.

Jean-Baptiste Gauvin


Photographic masterpieces from MoMA

The Thomas Walther collection

From September 14, 2021 to February 13, 2022

Jeu de Paume

1, place de la Concorde

75001 Paris

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