Langdon Clay, Cars, Autophoto, Exhibition at Fondation Cartier, Paris 2017 | Urban Mishmash
Langdon Clay, Zizka Cleaners car, Buick Electra from the series ‘Cars’, New York City, 1976. Courtesy of the artist. © Langdon Clay

Autophoto, a major photography exhibition currently on view at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain (Cartier Foundation) in Paris, explores photography’s relationship with cars since the beginning of the 20th century. While not ignoring the aesthetic representation of cars in photography, the Autophoto exhibition also examines how photographers have responded to the social, environmental, industrial and political dimensions of an increasingly urbanised landscape of which cars today form an integral part.

William Eggleston, 'Los Alamos', Autophoto, Exhibition at Fondation Cartier, Paris 2017 | Urban Mishmash
William Eggleston, ‘Los Alamos’ series, c. 1974. Eggleston Artistic Trust, Memphis. © Eggleston Artistic Trust, Memphis.

Cartier Foundation’s Autophoto exhibition features an eclectic selection of over five hundred works by more than ninety photographers from around the world. There are some well-known names: Jacques Henri Lartigue, Brassaï, William Eggleston, Daido Moriyama, Robert Doisneau, Man Ray and Martin Parr to name just a few. The images range from sleek black and white shots of cars parked on Chicago streets as photographed by Yashuhiro Ishimoto in the 1950s to the extraordinarily mundane, and at times humorous, street scenes captured by taxi drivers David Bradford and Óscar Fernando Gómez while on the job.

Óscar Fernando Gómez, 'Windows', Autophoto, Exhibition at Fondation Cartier, Paris 2017 | Urban Mishmash
Óscar Fernando Gómez, ‘Windows’ series, 2009. Courtesy Martin Parr Studio, Bristol. © Óscar Fernando Gómez.

Photographers Seydou Keïta and Sory Sanlé document cars as a symbol of upward social mobility with their portraits of car owners posing proudly with their vehicular possessions. Elsewhere, Robert Doisneau and Robert Frank’s images from inside car factories shed light on the workers’ lives in the 1920s and 30s. Among other highlights are Arwed Messmer’s photographs from the Reenactment series. These ‘collages’ of photographs drawn from the archives of East Germany’s Stasi secret police show how people were made to re-enact their failed escape scenes in vehicles as photographic evidence to carve a semblance of rule of law.

Seydou Keïta, Autophoto, Exhibition at Fondation Cartier, Paris 2017 | Urban Mishmash
Seydou Keïta, Untitled, 1952-1955. CAAC – The Pigozzi Collection, Geneva. © SKPEAC (The Seydou Keïta Photography Estate Advisor Corporation).
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