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Martine Franck's Photography Inaugurates the New Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson

  • Martine Franck - Étienne Martin dans son atelier
  • Martine Franck - Tulku Khentrul Lodro Rabsel
  • Martine Franck - Quartier de Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne, Royaume-Uni
November 12, 2018
Balasz Takac is alias of Vladimir Bjelicic who is actively engaged in art criticism, curatorial and artistic practice.

Since the beginning of the 20th century until the mid-1960s, photography was quite a male-dominated medium. In the post-war period however, the equipment became accessible to everyone, so naturally, more and more women started using the camera as a tool for expressing their own world views, and one of them was Martine Franck, who created an an extraordinary oeuvre over the course of more than four decades.

Marking the opening of their brand new venue, the Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson will now honor this photographer with a grand retrospective.

Martine Franck - Piscine conçue par Alain Capeillères
Martine Franck – Piscine conçue par Alain Capeillères, Le Brusc, été 1976 (Swimming pool designed by Alain Capeillères, Le Brusc, summer 1976) © Martine Franck / Magnum Photos

The Sharp Lens of Martine Franck

Martine Franck discovered photography in 1963 while traveling through the Orient. Before fully becoming a freelance photographer, she worked for Time-Life and became the assistant of Gjon Mili and Eliot Elisofon. Franck’s reportages and portraits of artists and writers were published in publications such as The New York Times, Vogue, Life, and Sports Illustrated. She launched the Vu agency, then Viva, and in 1970, she married the established photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. Around the 1980s, she became part of Magnum.

The subtle and sensible atmosphere and a specific approach to storytelling made the aesthetic of Martine Franck stand up; she celebrated life, yet was a socially engaged photographer who fought against the exclusion of any kind, which is especially important in the context of women’s emancipation.

Martine Franck - Le pèlerinage de San Isidro
Martine Franck – Le pèlerinage de San Isidro, Musée du Prado, Madrid, 1993 © Martine Franck / Magnum Photos

The Installment

The preparations for this exhibition took seven years. Namely, curator Agnès Sire started working on it in 2011, when Franck was already ill. The photographer wanted to entrust the creation of the monograph and the curating of the exhibition to the person with whom she’d been running this Foundation for many years.

The idea was to gather photographic prints, books, and documents (taken from the Foundation’s fund) in chronological order. An extension of the exhibition is a book where several texts and the interview with her friend, the writer Dominique Eddé are accompanied by the thread of her engagement through a series of portraits, quasi-abstract landscapes.

Martine Franck - Foyer de l’Armée du Salut
Martine Franck – Foyer de l’Armée du Salut, New York, 1979 (Foyer of the Salvation Army, New York) © Martine Franck / Magnum Photos

Martine Franck at Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson

It is important to mention that besides her fruitful photographic career, Martine Franck was the co-founder and president of the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation since 2003. She was quite aware that Cartier-Bresson’s great legacy could easily be neglected, so she established a public foundation to preserve, promote and share both hers and her husband’s work.

This exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Musée de l’Élysée in Lausanne and the FotoMuseum in Antwerp where the same installment will be on display in 2019.

Martine Franck – A retrospective at Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson in Paris will be on display until 10 February 2019.

Featured images: Martine Franck – Étienne Martin dans son atelier, rue du Pot-de-Fer, Paris, 1967 (Étienne Martin in his studio, rue du Pot-de-Fer, Paris) © Martine Franck / Magnum Photos; Martine Franck – Tulku Khentrul Lodro Rabsel, 12 ans, avec son tuteur Lhagyel, monastère Shechen, Bodnath, Népal, 1966 (Tulku Khentrul Lodro Rabsel, aged 12, with his Lhagyel tutor,Shechen monastery, Bodnath, Nepal) © Martine Franck / Magnum Photos; A Survey of Martine Franck Photography Inaugurates the New Fondation Henri Cartier Bresson; Martine Franck – Quartier de Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne, Royaume-Uni, 1977 (Quartier de Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne, Royaume-Uni) © Martine Franck / Magnum Photos. All images courtesy Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson.