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Un livre – une image Gallery is closing


In 2006, Emmanuelle Fructus created her gallery: Un livre – une image.
Today, she announces its closure in these terms:

Historian, iconographer and artist, in 2006 I created the gallery Un livre – une image. At that time, for me it was an act of freedom and independence which allowed me to invent my working tool by distributing artists’ books and images and hunting the Parisian markets. Today, the time has come for me to leave the old photography market while perpetuating it: Un livre – une image becomes Collection Un livre – une image.

My thanks go to all the people — artists, collectors, historians and image lovers — whom I had the pleasure of meeting. Our fruitful exchanges, their vision, their trust, their friendship largely contributed to the creation of my collection. I am very grateful to them. It is partly thanks to them, that daily, for so many years, I consulted so many images. This decision was not premeditated, a year ago, the idea of ​​stopping this activity of selling photographs would never have occurred to me – it is nevertheless a well thought and deliberate act.

In the early 2000s, the first works devoted to photography books appeared. This market then experienced a relative surge. Witness to these speculative mechanisms, my desire to exchange around books quickly faded. I thought that my place was probably more on the side of anonymous images their marketing being still limited in France.

Anonymous photography was then only a niche market. Some major gallery owners, convinced that we understood nothing about photography, did not understand the challenges of amateur and anonymous photography whose prices and artistic interest seemed too low, with no real challenges.

I have always envisaged Un livre – une image as a free zone of knowledge, an open segment on the history of amateur and anonymous photography, a human meeting point. I tried to bring together material objects in order to draw up inventories around the different amateur and professional photographic practices by acquiring images produced between 1880 and 1980. I measure both the richness and the fragility of my collection which illustrates and pays homage to the interest shown in private photographic archives by artists and historians since the 1970s. I remain deeply in love with these photographs. Consulting them daily, touching them, classifying them and archiving them allowed me to appreciate their sensitive, artistic, anthropological, sociological and historical power.

Being a photography dealer has been a privilege for me, because for more than twenty years, I have been able to discover an immense variety of documents. I have always considered myself an iconographer and a conveyor of images. My training as a historian of photography helped me think about the articulation of my collection. My eye sharpened over time and my only heritage will remain my classification and my  library.

Today, the future and use of these images face new challenges. I prefer to withdraw from this market, no longer able to find as much pleasure in the circulation of these images. This gesture is radical and political. Like others, I wanted to support this photography towards institutional recognition. Securing this documentary collection appeared to me to be a vital necessity in the face of the commercial and ethical issues that are being played out today in the field of contemporary art.

I have always been fascinated by Man Ray, his photograms, his idea of ​​upside-down photography. I therefore prefer to get rid of the collection Un livre – une image which represents a little more than 30,000 photographs, the result of twenty years of acquisitions and research, to put myself “on the other side” of the craze for these images and to move questions related to the archive on the side of my personal work.

An encounter sometimes changes your life. Hélène Mignaval, who entered by chance more than ten years ago in my small gallery located at 17, rue Alexandre Dumas in Paris, became a lover of these little found images. Wishing to support my work, she will acquire the Un livre – une image fund in view of a future donation.

The Un livre – une image Collection will soon join a French institution instead of being put up for auction, which allows me to escape speculation and to safeguard the content and meaning of this photographic collection. On the other hand, I keep the collection dedicated to itinerant photographers on which I have been working for around fifteen years, and of which a chapter has just been very recently exhibited with the help of Bertrand Tillier and Anne Delrez at La Conserverie, an archive in Metz.

You can consult an article on this subject which has just been published in issue 8 of the Photographica magazine edited by Éléonore Challine and Paul-Louis Roubert. It was written after the day of studies organized by Michel Poivert and Eve Cohen “Archives and contemporary creation” at INHA in October 2023.

Emmanuelle Fructus


Revue Photographica

La Conserverie, un lieu d’archives

Le Collège International de Photographie du Grand Paris

Emmanuelle Fructus

Un livre – une image

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