Photos in Paris are always irresistible, whether you come to snap the sites or worship the greats. (Talents currently visible here include Lewis Hine, William Klein and Diane Arbus.) Now, for the month of November, a quartier central to the photo’s role will celebrate it. The brand-new Festival of the Photo in St.-Germain-des-Près features four-dozen venues: all showing works around the theme of image, writers and writing.
The unifying theme is appropriate. For, from the rabble-rousing pamphlets of the Revolution through its postwar existentialists, St.-Germain was always a mecca for the literati. The idea is so rich, in fact, that it will be broken down further. Some spaces are showing photographs that “illustrate” works (such as an homage to St.- Exupéry, author of Le Petit Prince). Some are mining vintage photos in Paris for portraits of writers (rare shots of Oscar Wilde will be at L’Hôtel, where he died in 1900). There are collaborations between writers and photographers and there are portfolios inspired by texts both modern and classic.
Daniela Edburg, Spinster. Courtesy Galerie Bailly Contemporain/© Galerie Bailly Contemporain.
The festival, which was the idea of the area’s art merchants, runs all month. As well as 50-plus galleries, host sites include the Chapelle des Beaux-Arts, Institut de France, Romanian and Czechoslovakian Cultural Centers, Hungarian Institute, Académie des Beaux-Arts, University of Paris Descartes and, of course, L’Hôtel. Many local cafés and bookstores plan their own informal shows.
In this neighborhood, writing and art date back to the sixth century. Although it is now a center of upscale retail, St.-Germain works hard to keep its traditions alive. Not only do the quartier’s streets burst with galleries; many of the city’s most beloved bookstores call it home. Prestigious art and design schools are also located here. Also, since the venerable Procope opened in 1689, the area’s café culture has sustained both painters (from Delacroix to Modigliani) and writers (from Racine to Sartre). Much of this activity appears in the best-known photos in Paris.
Antoine Poupel, Crazy Horse. Courtesy Espaces 5.
The new festival—which is free—will provide a feast for the eye. Be sure you partake; you won’t be sorry!
Opening evening of the Festival of the Photo in Saint Germain-des-Près is November 3, and the festival runs from November 3 to 30.
Stop for a tipple on rue de Seine at Café la Palette. This beautiful, winding street is one of the city’s key art locations and the atmospheric café once hosted Braque, Picasso and Cézanne. It has perhaps the best outside terrasse in Paris.
The rue de Seine gallery Images de Fer has published a special book about its famous neighbor’s history. La Palette, which can be bought for 39 euros inside the gallery (13, rue de Seine), is a special souvenir.
Left: Alban Jupolli, L’Inconnue du Flore, 2011. Courtesy Galerie l’Amour de l’Art. Right: Inge Morath. © Inge Morath Foundation/courtesy Magnum Gallery.
• Alban Jupolli and Jean Dutripd, “Paris, Regards Croisés”
A project that marries the work of a Kosovar photographer with that of a French writer and academic, these evocative glimpses of the city offer secrets from her streets.
Galerie l’Amour de l’Art, 67, rue de Seine
• Daniela Edburg, “Knit”
A series of large color photos made by the virtuoso American knitter, these theatrical snaps are scenes Edburg created with inspiration from tales from Dickens to “Little Red Riding Hood.”
Galerie Bailly Contemporain, 38, rue de Seine
• Jim Goldberg, “Open See”
In the history of photography, the Magnum agency’s name resonates. Its gallery offers Jim Goldberg’s look at modern immigration. The portfolio won the 2007 French HCB prize and the 2011 Börse prize in Germany.
Magnum Gallery, 13, rue de l’Abbaye
A portrait of Simone de Beauvoir by Gisèle Freund. Courtesy Galerie LWS.
• “Intimacy and Words: Portraits of Writers”
Roger-Viollet, the Parisian photo agency, plans to display portraits of writers at work in its vast period windows. Given the immeasurable riches of its archive, this would be my No. 1 choice.
Roger-Viollet, 6, rue de Seine
• Malik Sibidé, “Words and Images”
Tucked into one of the quartier’s most historic streets, Le Plac’art Photo is an odd little hole-in-the-wall. But it will show Malik Sibidé, an extraordinary Malian photographer whose specialty was capturing trendy African youth. These portrait shots made him a ’70s superstar.
Le Plac’art Photo, 5, rue de l’Ancienne Comédie
• Gisèle Freund, “Portraits of Artists”
Freund was a pioneer, not only of photojournalism, but in the use of color. Don’t miss her singular portraits of writers and artists.
La Galerie Lucie Weill & Seligmann, 6, rue Bonaparte
Festival of the Photo in St.-Germain-des-Près
Café la Palette
Images de Fer
Galerie l’Amour de l’Art
Galerie Bailly Contemporain
Le Plac’art Photo
La Galerie Lucie Weill & Seligmann