Portrait of André Villers and Pablo Picasso
Dumas+Limbach is pleased to present "Une vie d'images et de collages" a solo show in our Parisian gallery. On this occasion, we will showcase emblematic artworks of the French photographer André Villers.
André Villers was born on October 10, 1930, in Beaucourt in the territory of Belfort, a highly industrialized region. He grew up in a Japy family, clockmakers whose company, bearing the same name, was as significant as Peugeot in the region. In 1945, hip pains began to appear. Quickly, the situation worsened. In 1946, the young boy was urgently transported to the medical center in Vallauris. On-site, he was diagnosed with bone tuberculosis. He was then admitted to the city's sanatorium.
At just 17 years old, he found himself bedridden with a cast covering his entire body for nearly five long years. But from this unfortunate period, various encounters allowed him to maintain hope and a zest for life. First and foremost, there was the meeting with Pierre Astoux, a teacher at the sanatorium. He introduced him to photography. It was a revelation. From 1952 onwards, young Villers began his photographic experiments.
Bonhomme n°2, 1986
48 x 18 cm
Bonhomme n°2, 1986
48 x 18 cm
Then, during the year 1953, on a granted leave, the young man, who had made it a habit to wander through the town and photograph those he encountered, captured an older man sitting on a bench. Proud of the captured shot, Villers aspired to present his developed achievement to the man he had managed to capture. Charmed, the man responded, "I really like it, you've got talent, kid." Eager to enrich this artistic exchange, the man decided to, in turn, show him his own creations and led him to his studio. This is how Villers first discovered the works of the illustrious Pablo Picasso, and their friendly relationship began.
As you may have understood, Villers is much more than an outstanding portraitist. The photographer develops, enlarges, cuts, pastes, assembles, rearranges, staples, tears, removes, reorganizes, and rethinks.
Active throughout his career, he couldn't bring himself to confine to a single medium. A fan of cutting and collage, he explores, with his sharp cutter, the lines of cardboard paper. In contrast to Matisse, who favored scissors, Villers prefers the precision of the cutting tool.
Bonhomme n°3, 1990
45 x 26 cm
As time passed, it surely constrained and penalized him less than his counterpart. Nevertheless, he navigated shapes and faces with a great deal of humor. Anna Farova accurately described André Villers as a "cultural phenomenon, whose work stands at the intersection of photography, painting, and poetry." Discreet, the man behind the most illustrious portraits of our society (such as the photograph of Le Corbusier that adorns the 10 Swiss franc banknote) always maintained a very humble posture.
His "Bonhommes," elaborated through various collages, embody the humorous scope of his universe. Comic and whimsical, his characters are far removed from the serious expressions of the black and white photographs he traditionally practiced. The gazes are eccentric, the colors vibrant and dazzling. The subjects display atypical, sometimes mischievous, physiques.
Owning one of these characters would almost be like entering Villers' secret garden. Discovering it at the dawn of a new day reveals a less reserved and more exuberant perspective of his work. Recognized by his peers, André Villers benefited from numerous retrospective exhibitions. The Pompidou Center presents him in its permanent collections, while the Museum of Photography in Mougins has borne his name since the mid-1980s.
Internationally, countries such as Korea, Japan, the United States, and Canada, to name a few, pay homage to him. André Villers passed away on April 1, 2016, in Luc-en-Provence in Var. He leaves behind enduring memories of a vibrant artistic period.
Bonhomme n°1, 1986
57 x 29 x 5 cm
"We should do something together. I'll cut out small characters, and you'll take photos. You'll give weight to the shadows using the sunlight. You'll have to take thousands of photos"
Quotation from Pablo Picasso