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The collection of the Château d’Eau – first institution in France exclusively dedicated to photography – is hosting a rich set of nearly 4,000 printings, from the Seventies to today, to represent authors with all types of artistic identities. Over time, as photographic techniques evolved and over the history of the Château d’Eau was composed a collection which is the reflection of the exhibitions presented for more than forty years.
Since its origin and because of its technical function photography was given as a vocation to be the witness of the world and a major part of the photographic creation is part of this perspective. The artists since the mid-19th Century took over photography to set it up as a medium to invent images. The history of photography thus fluctuates between both of these uses.
The Château d’Eau does not focus on a specific photographic style but on the contrary accompanies the different forms suggested by the artists. This exhibition follows the approach of the Château d’Eau “between a mirror to the soul and a window on the world” to take up the famous conservator at the MoMa of New York John Szarkowski’s idea. It is therefore an oscillation between times; oscillation between celebrities with an international reputation and local photographers; oscillation between classical artists and today’s photographers; oscillation between reports and experimental photography; oscillation between portrait and object.
The parallels constituted in the different sequences can be justified in the form, in idea or in a closeness that works in spite of a certain incongruity. There are relations of texture, of sense, of light as much as feelings of strangeness or anxiety that can stand out of some photographs and therefore constitute a coherent set. We can also identify dialogues between colors and shifts from soft shades to stronger ones.
The exhibition Oscillation, Reflection of the Collection of the Château d’Eau aims at making the visitor discover or rediscover the greatest classics of photography at the same moment as less famous contemporary artists; but also at suggesting a route through time in a will to show pieces of art less mediatized than others. We wished to bring the public tools that enable every single one to construct its own judgment. The programming is composed of artists that are part of History as well as it opens to the emergent artists; since in the end creation is always in reference and in opposition with the past.
This exhibition was constructed in a pleasure to share with the public the richness of our stock.