Paris: The Exhibitions

By Lynn McLanahan

A discussion of some of the pho­tography shown during November's Le Mois de la Photo in Paris. This is part one of a two part feature. Part two will appear in the summer issue of SPOT.
The Larousse Photographic Archives at the Dawn of the 20th Century, Giraudon Photographic Agency. 92 rue de Richelieu.
When you least expect it, you stumble on a jewel. Dark, raining, up a rickety staircase hoping to find an exhibit, walking into an office space with people pulling transpar­encies out of drawers, typing, and talking on the telephone — this was it? They ignored us so we began to look at the photographs scattered about on the walls. Larousse is Frances Encyclopedia Brittanica and hanging was a selection of im­ages from their archives. One began with wonderful, rarely seen 19th century portraits by French greats such as Carjat, Sarony, and Reutlinger of celebrities including Pierre Loti, Maurice Maeterlinck, and even a fat Sarah Bernhardt.
Drawn by the photographs, one ceased to worry so much when stepping on a computer sticking out from underneath the man's desk you were squeezing behind, trying not to get caught in his telephone cord as he was talking. The variety was impressive: landscapes, street life, portraits by known, unknown, and anonymous photographers.
Chinese fish merchants, climbers in the Swiss Alps, lochs in Scotland, Rumanian countryside; the work ranged in style from the refreshingly naive to the more sophisticated and technically proficient. The interesting selection and the unique ambience which I soon began to appreciate made this an exhibition I yearned to go back to as I moved on to less than inspirational exhibits.