This course is designed to provide an overview of the history of photography during the past two centuries in France. With its invention in 1839 by Niépce, the development of the daguerreotype, and the production of portraits, landscapes and snapshots, photography’s evolution throughout the 19th century demonstrates how this new discipline responded to specific as well as unidentified needs, and eventually distinguished itself from paintings and other means of representation. Examining 20th century avant-garde, surrealist and modern photography in documentaries, political images, the illustrated press, photographic agencies and journals will enhance students’ understanding of the present. The course will include site visits to the annual Rencontres d’Arles photography festival.
Method of presentation:
Lectures, discussions, film/documentaries on photographers, field study visits to photography festivals (International Photo Festival and Ecole Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie).
Required work and form of assessment:
Participation and attendance - 30%
In-class exams - 30%
Oral presentation on an exposition - 40%
Introduction to the Course and the Invention of Photography
Before photography existed
Niépce: first fixed photographic image in 1826-27
Collaboration with Daguerre and development of the daguerreotype
1839: An Invention Made Public. Initial Uses and First Works: The Calotype
International expansion of the daguerreotype: portrait, architecture and other endeavors
The era of the calotype – first photographic works – a new esthetic: HF Talbot, Bayard, Hill & Adamson, etc.
Revolution of the Wet-plate Collodium: 1851-55, 1870-80
Various forms of portraits: art studios, callings cards. Famous faces. Photography used by the police.
Photography and territories: war photography, new landscapes, untouched landscapes, scientific and industrial photography.
Silver Gelatin Bromide Process: Birth of the Instant and a New Look
Revolution of the snapshot
Birth of the amateur photographer
Art and Photography
“Make a painting,” imitate painting, naturalism, pictorialism, and other schools.
Straight Photography and Successors in the 20th Century
Camera Work, Steichen, Stieglitz: moving towards the 20th century
The modern city. American references.
Photography and Modernities: Explorations 1910-1930
Experimenting with light
Researching new points of view
The surrealist adventure
Politics, Photojournalism and Humanism
Photography and politics. FSA (Farm Security Administration) photographers. Social landscape.
Major events, illustrated press, photography agencies.
A New Post-War Vision
Alexei Brodovitch and her students. A photography unhinged, intimate, curious. Photographic journals.
Photography and Contemporary Art
Plastic photographers. Artists using photography. Galleries and Art Markets.
New Visions, New Practices. Our Questions.
Delpire, Robert and Michel Frizot. Histoire de voir. Collection Photo-Poche, 1989.
The history of photography is conveyed mainly through specialized photography books that are either general or particular to a specific photographer. The instructor will provide information on how to find these books in the library. Recent texts in French and English will be distributed throughout the course. A bibliography will also be created.