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Lartigue, the fleeting moment of happiness


'' My universe is an immense park '', the first words of Jacques Henri Lartigue's diary tell a way of understanding the world that accompanied the great French photographer throughout his life. (HANDLE)

VENICE - '' My universe is an immense park '', the first words of Jacques Henri Lartigue's diary tell a way of understanding the world that accompanied the great French photographer throughout his life. The 'Belle Epoque', those bright and carefree years between the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the new century which were the prelude to the disaster of the wars, was documented by its meticulous private application focused on pouring a positive vision of reality on film, to fix happiness in his fleeting moment, an unrepeatable moment destined to be lost even in the memory unless he can somehow capture it. Until January 10, the exhibition dedicated to him in Venice by the Casa dei Tre Oci is an opportunity to browse Lartigue's personal albums, the treasure chest that the artist really fed day by day with his shots, until in 1963 - now sixty-eight - he was discovered by the general public thanks to an exhibition organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. For '' The invention of happiness '', the largest retrospective ever organized in Italy for the French master, the curators - Marion Perceval and Charles-Antoine Revol of the Donation Lartigue with Denis Curti, artistic director of the Venetian exhibition venue - selected 120 images, 55 of which unpublished, fished out of the thousands chosen by the photographer, who since 1902 has collected over two hundred thousand. Some pages of the more than 200 photo albums are reproduced in facsimile, next to the book "Diario del Secolo" from 1970, published under the title "Instants de ma vie", magazines of the time, a slideshow with the album pages, three stereoscopies with images representing snowy landscapes and elegant Parisian scenarios.
    When fate is said ... Jacques Henri Lartigue (1894-1986), born into a very rich family who also avoided school, had the first camera at the age of seven as a gift. Since then, it has been a continuous chase in the 'mission impossible' of preserving moments of joy to be savored over time. Ferdinando Scianna, in the beautiful essay in the catalog, recalls the disappointment and anguish of the little Jacques who, for once without the car, lost the most beautiful of the ladies walking in the Bois de Boulogne. '' Lartigue did what no photographer had done before and that nobody did after: photographing their own life, '' said Richard Avedon, who launched him on the world stage after the exhibition at Moma on the shots taken before the Great War, dedicated to the rich Parisian bourgeoisie of the Grand Prix car racing or horse racing in Auteuil. It was the story of an elegant and refined microcosm that the artist tried to preserve. With the constant of the subjects caught in funny attitudes, in the act of diving, jumping, moving. The first airplanes, tennis, early winter sports, balloons, women ... '' Photography becomes the means for Lartigue to revive life, to relive happy moments, again and again - observes Curti -. He was a photographer of himself. He did not work on the concept of happiness but on his happiness ''.
    It was Avedon who asked him to bring back some shots to create a photographic 'newspaper' that became '' Diary of a Century '' thanks to which Lartigue entered the great photograph of the twentieth century. In the 1940s the artist had his photographs in magazines, combining worldly encounters and the most sought after shots. The 70s and 80s were marked by collaborations with fashion and cinema, where he was a stage photographer for many films. Scianna, who met him and became a friend, says that it was natural for Lartigue to `` see and hear only the beautiful part of life '' and remember that the photographer attributed his fame to chance, he who had always shown his photos only to friends and family. Besides, it's for them and for me that I did them, as a joke. Painting and photographing are different ways to try to stop the fugitive moment of life, to 'preserve' a little of the immense happiness of life ''. Easy, therefore, the comparison with Proust, who never met while attending the same environments. Two personalities at the antipodes: Lartigue looked to the present, his - as the title of one of his journals explains - were 'memories without memory'; the writer Marcel pointed to the past and to 'lost time'. '' He was a nocturnal man, I was solar, '' he explained. Happiness cannot look back and so for Lartigue, '' photography is the wonderful tool to attempt a great challenge to time and death, to catch with the 'eye trap' everything that can be of life and joy, try to make it last as long as possible. '' Lartigue went through the twentieth century preserving the spirit of a child. There is no pain, death, violence or morbidity in his images, the result of the desire that he could be reproached for describing only a cheerful and trouble-free existence. The short century, marked by catastrophes, wars, horrors and massacres, was long and happy for Lartigue. (HANDLE).

Source: ansa

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