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The Questionnaire : José Lévy by Carole Schmitz


José Lévy… Free Electron

 Stylist, visual artist, art director, architect, designer and photographer, José Lévy is certainly a talented jack-of-all-trades, but the man is above all an audacious traveler and free thinker.

After a remarkable passage in the world of fashion (his ready-to-wear brand made him famous from the United States to Japan), he turned to art and decorative arts, creating (among others) for the Manufacture de Sèvres, the galleries Tools and Emmanuel Perrotin, but also for Astier de Villatte, RocheBobois, GallerySBensimon and more recently for Made in Design x Lelièvre, Serax and Leblon Delienne.

His universe is as poetic as it is whimsical, and if his approach to things is as much endowed with rigor as with spirit, it is above all human.

His creative work is transversal and is often inspired by memories and traces of the past to which he adds a touch of audacity and fantasy.

Passionate about Japan, he stayed at Villa Kujoyama (where he was a laureate) from September to December 2011. His project had its origins in family memories: his grandfather, a collector of Japanese art, owned a business making tatami mats, kimonos and bokken (Japanese wooden sword). From there was born the work of the artist at the Villa in a back and forth between contemporary Japan and the objects that fascinated his childhood.

Also winner of the Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris and Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, his creations fascinate because they tell stories and marvelously combine past and future visions.


Instagram : joselevyjoselevy


Your first photographic trigger ?
José Lévy : As a child, I had the great honor of being entrusted with the family’s super eight camera to immortalize our intimate moments.

The man or woman of images who inspires you?
José Lévy : Wolfgang Tillmans, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Duane Michals, Peter Hujar, early Bruce Weber, Jean-Baptiste Mondino, Andy Warhol, Diane Arbus and many others….

The image you would have liked to make?
José Lévy: None, when I take pictures, they are more like capturing moments that I experience myself: a memory factory.

Which one moved you the most?
José Lévy: Duane Michals “The most beautiful parts in a man’s body”. I love Duane Michals and his reveries…

And the one that made you angry?
José Lévy: This one …

A key image in your personal pantheon?
José Lévy : Intimate photos from the past ….

What quality is necessary to be a good photographer?

José Lévy : To be aware and to be sharp.
Personally, I only take pictures, I capture a moment that I live, that I see and that instantly becomes a memory…
Being a good photographer also comes from preparatory work. Preparatory to something I don’t necessarily know yet….

What is the perfect image for you, if it exists?
José Lévy: I don’t know what “a perfect image” means in absolute terms. I don’t like the notion of perfection very much: I hear rigidity, dryness, distance, pedestal, everything but an invitation to share… But in a more general way, I think it must be an image that upsets, every time …

The person you would like to photograph?
José Lévy : The person I will fall in love with

An essential photo book?
José Lévy: August Sander, Avedon, Tillmans, Rio de B Weber, Mondino, Diane Arbus Peter Hujar,

What camera do you currently use?
José Lévy: My iPhone : : it’s very easy to use and takes beautiful pictures.
I asked myself the question of “the camera” but it does not correspond to who I am, even small it takes up too much space, requires settings that go against my approach of capturing what my eyes have seen, spotted.

Are you more interested in color or B&W?
José Lévy: Color, without hesitation. I don’t understand the mannerism of B&W for a contemporary image: it doesn’t make sense to me, it’s a bit “retro” and affected. So many possibilities to modify reality are available today: why take refuge in this one?

Daylight or artificial light?
José Lévy: I capture the lights that offer themselves on my way.

Your favorite drug?
José Lévy: My work.

The best way to disconnect for you?
José Lévy: Disconnecting? What is that?

Your greatest quality?
José Lévy: Curious and concrete.

The job you would not have liked to do?
José Lévy: The ones I don’t even understand the title of

Your greatest extravagance as a “photographer”?
José Lévy: For the moment: going alone to Japan for 10 days for Air France Magazine and publishing a 16-page portfolio.

What parallel would you draw between photography and design?
José Lévy: The way you look at what’s around you.

What values do you wish to share through your work?
José Lévy: Beauty, emotion, and all kinds of creaking noises…

The most photogenic city according to you?
José Lévy: All can be: the result depends more on who is looking.

The place you never get tired of?
José Lévy : Paris and Nature.

Your biggest regret?
José Lévy: I prefer not to think about it.

What do you think about networks? Which ones do you use?
José Lévy: I like to share all my enthusiasms, whether they are professional or personal, and for that Instagram is a good one.

If God existed would you ask him to pose for you, or would you opt for a selfie with him?
José Lévy: Selfie of course!

And if you had to do it all over again?
José Lévy: Then I would do it all again!




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