Portraits. Best known for his documentary photographs of regions torn apart by conflicts, he realized also compelling photographs of legendary figures in the performing arts, revealing an aspect of his work that goes beyond journalistic photography.
Capturing an epoch.
Gilles Caron is best known for his documentary photographs of regions torn apart by conflicts during the turbulent years from 1967 - 1970. As one of the founding members of Gamma, his images of the wars in Vietnam, Biafra and Northern Ireland in addition to his coverage of the political and social uprisings in Europe brought him worldwide acclaim.
No less compelling are Gilles Caron's photographs of legendary figures in the performing arts. He worked alongside Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, capturing poetic moments between sequences of filming in Paris. He was present during Jacques Brel's and Barbara's premie'res at the Olympia and in the corridors during Yves Saint Laurent's heady fashion shows of the late 1960's. His intimate portraits of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, of Raquel Welch and Sofia Loren on their respective wedding days and of James Brown and Louis Armstrong during their stops in Paris reveal Caron's passionate eye for humanity during a creative and a politically charged era.
In 1968 he traveled three times to Biafra and covered numerous political and cultural events in Paris that became emblematic of May 1968, such as his famous image of Cohn-Bendit face to face with a Republican security officer. Gilles Caron disappeared in Cambodia in April of 1970, just short of his 31st birthday.
The international prize "Golden Lens" was awarded to Gilles Caron posthumously in 1972 by the German magazine Bild der Zeit for one of his images from Biafra. His work then fell into relative obscurity, with the exception of a book by Raymond Depardon entitled "Gilles Caron Reporter" published by Editions du Chene in 1978 and an exhibition at the Bibliothe'que Nationale in Paris in the same year. Twenty years after his death, in 1990, the Muse'e d'Elyse'e in Lausanne prepared a long overdue retrospective of his work. His images of May 1968 were rediscovered during the 30th anniversary of this event in several publications and exhibitions. In 2006, the 37th Rencontres d'Arles presented an exhibition of Gilles Caron and Don McCullin, while Reporters sans Frontie'res dedicated an album juxtaposing his war photographs with several personalities of the 1960's. His photographs are distributed today by Contact Press Images in Paris.
A portraitist's eye
The exhibition Gilles Caron - Portraits reveals an aspect of his work that goes beyond journalistic photography. Through his portraits Caron shows himself to be a keen observer of humanity, amazingly agile in his ability to extract something essential from the person in front of his lens. His subjects become larger than the context of their time and speak of hope, of revolt, of courage and of love. Henri Cartier-Bresson said of Gilles Caron: technique and an eye... this guy is worthy of becoming my successor.
Opening november, 11 2006
Simon Studer Art
5, rue de la Muse - Geneve