Written by Anna Blume
Few photographers are instantly recognizable as Gérard Uféras – especially the works of “A Day in the Museum” by the French photographer which is presented at the Samara Museum of Art in Russia from July 16 through August 16, 2020. The collection on show features about 120 black-and-white photographs of Gérard Uféras’s extensive Œuvre and was initiated and organized in cooperation with the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow.
Gérard Uféras is one of the important photographers in France today. He has been working with the newspaper Libération since 1984. His photographs, which are almost exclusively in black and white are published in newspapers and magazines such as Le Monde, L’Express, Beaux Arts Magazine, Madame Figaro, Paris Match, L’Officiel, Jardin des Modes, Il Corriere della Sera, The Independent Magazine, Le Figaro Magazine… His pictures are represented in important collections including the Maison Européenne de la Photographie and the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne and the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow.
A Feeling for The Decisive Moment
Gérard Uféras possesses, to the most extraordinary degree, a feeling for the decisive moment, that instinct which prompted Cartier-Bresson to conjure up the expression “saisir l’instant décisif”.
From the start of his career, awarded by “The Villa Medicis hors les Murs” grant, he began a behind-the-scenes trip in the greatest European Opera Houses. This work naturally led him behind the scenes of fashion, which quickly secured him international acclaim. Like Hoyningen-Huene, Horst and Munkácsi, he photographs the modern woman in austere elegance, of infinite grace, sensual and confident… yet enigmatic and mysterious. Gérard Uféras’ photographs have been exhibited worldwide: his books are published by publishing houses such as Flammarion, Terre Bleue and Rizzoli Publications.
Uféras works within the tradition of the great French photographers and yet manages to remain unmistakably unique. He succeeds in captivating the observer while constantly coming up with surprises. Cartier-Bresson once remarked: “We are thieves, but we steal in order to give.” On top of this, the special feature of Uféras’s work is that his photographs are frequently full of humor and the comic aspect of the situation.Willy Ronis, his mentor and friend, describes Uféras’s work with the words: « On voudrait employer un mot très fort, mais on n’ose pas, alors on dit qu’on est devant le grand mystère qui se nomme la Grâce. » (“You are tempted to use a very strong word, but you don’t dare to – so you say you are faced with the great mystery which is called grace.”)
Gérard Uféras started taking photos at the age of 8, using his father’s cameras. At the age of 11, he began to regularly visit the museums of Paris … and since then has never stopped. This is how, since 2016, he has fulfilled his childhood dream by starting a journey in the most important museums of the world.
Securing Evidence in Museums
Just as Eugène Atget created a detailed record of Paris during his strolls around the city at the dawn of the 20th century, Gérard Uféras secured evidence for his documentary account of museums. In this environment he renders himself virtually invisible. Thus he manages to create, from a great distance, astonishing observations with immense intimacy, capturing insights into the souls of the museum visitors which are at the same time deeply personal, humorous and striking. He possesses a very special instinct for the open gaze of children at great works of art – though he also shows them unimpressed, sometimes exhausted, playing with soft toys on the floor or a bench at a museum, or falling asleep. Here his images are of almost tender attentiveness. The museum becomes a human stage, the all too human. Gérard Uféras captures these moments to perfection, reclaiming the museum – which too often had been a mausoleum – for the living present.
“A Day in the Museum” was first shown in spring 2019 at the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow as part of the XI Moscow International Biennale “Fashion and Style in Photography”. The exhibition was curated by Olga Sviblova – the founder and director of MAMM – and was a great success with audiences and the press: over 80,000 visitors to the museum saw these photographs. Immediately after the opening of the exhibition, Gérard Uféras held a masterclass in the museum.
Gérard Uféras : A Day in the Museum
July 16 – August16, 2020
The Samara Museum of Art
Ulitsa Kuybysheva, 92, Samara, Samara Oblast, Russia, 443099
Phone: +7 (846) 332-33-09