Jean-Claude Gautrand



"At thirty-four years old, Jean-Claude Gautrand is one of the most brilliant winners of French experimental photography, tributary of the highest awards in this field. He is also an indefatigable animator of specialized groups and clubs, an organizer of international exhibitions that travel around the world. (...) The Libre Expression group that he animates brings together the best contemporary French photographers.

What is a photographer researcher? The attendance of Gautrand allowed me to get an idea about it. Like all artistic vocations, photography research does not pay its man, the nude and some areas of reporting aside. These amateurs by force of the things remained, very unjustly, at the stage of the pure passion: who would think in 1967 to buy avant-garde photographic prints to simple photographers, as one buys a drawing, an engraving or even the reproduction of a masterpiece?

These researchers are gentle poets who persist in their vision and persevere in their being. They give us to see the world with a fresh, ingenuous and objective eye: objectivity through the camera, devoid of much of the impedimenta of a sclerotic culture, available to the magnificent gifts of observation and chance. Of course, a guiding idea, intimately linked to the psychological structure of the individual, orders the steps. In the case of Jean-Claude Gautrand, it is obviously the spirit of geometry. His most symptomatic photographs, from the "Metalopolis" series, translate into structured calligrams the architectural world of metal, its rails, its beams, its scaffolding carrying future cities. In older works there is always a very significant tendency to the purity, the dosage and the contrast of the shadows, to the exaltation of the contours.

There is a kind of Calvinist morality in this sharp, objective, constructed vision that Gautrand bears on the world. His mind adds to the analytic character of the camera. The meeting is happy, the marriage is fruitful. Gautrand appears as one of the most gifted among those constructivists of the real who have resumed the investigation at this point of the visual research where the Russian painters had left before the October revolution and the Bauhaus theorists of Weimar. My testimony has the ambition, besides signaling to the public a source of authenticity poetry by the image, to draw attention to a basic problem, that of experimental photography. At a time when the painters of the "Mec-Art" are preparing to assume a revival of expressiveness in this area, the ten Gautrand existing in France (envied by their conformist colleagues, ignored by the "real artists", despised by public opinion) are they condemned to remain for ever the Cousins ​​Pons of the great aesthetic family?"

Pierre Restany talks about Jean-Claude Gautrand in relation to the Métalopolis series (Milan, 1967).


Jean-Claude Gautrand is a French photographer born on December 10, 1932 in Saint-en-Gohelle and died on September 23, 2019 in Paris.

We know his photos of the landing beaches, the series Destruction of the Halles and Reconstruction of the Pavillon Baltard. He was a witness-artist of this pre-seventies era, the Pompidou period. In 1974, he curated the first selection of the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie d'Arles.

The works from "Métalopolis" transpose us, both as witnesses and actors, into the era of the great construction sites.

Exhibitions (selection)


Itinéraire d'un photographe, Galerie Cèz'Art, Bessèges


Paris, Mon Amour, Galerie Gadcollection, Paris


La Lumière de l'ombre, Médiathèque de Forbach


Le Temps pour dire, Maison des Arts, Conches-en-Ouche

- Pavillon Baltard, Salle Wateau, Nogent-sur-Marne

- Métalopolis - Baltard, Galerie W, Paris

- Nouvelles acquisitions, group show, Musée Réattu, Arles


Construction et déconstruction, Galerie Philippe Chaume, Paris

- Galerie Vrais Rêves, Lyon

- Acquisitions récentes, Festival Regards, Villeneuve-la-Rivière


- Structures, Galerie Photo, Montpellier

- Natzwiller-Struthof camp, Musée Réattu, Les Rencontres d'Arles

Itinéraire d'un photographe 1960-2005, Musée de La Poste, Paris

Les Boues rouges, Médiathèque de Cernay


- Galerie W, Paris

Chroniques arlésiennes, Centre Iris, Paris


Itinéraire d'un photographe 1960-2000, Centre Régional de la Photographie Nord - Pas-de-Calais, Douchy-les-Mines

Bercy, une balade, Bercy Village


Itinéraire d'un photographe 1960-2000, Roubaix et Villeneuve-la-Rivière

Hommage, Pavillon Baltard, Nogent-sur-Marne

Forteresses du dérisoire, Galerie Léon Herschtritt, Paris


Vallées englouties, Galerie J.P Gapihan, Paris


- Paris sous l'objectif with an international tour worldwide

- Acquisitions récentes, group show, Bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris


Mémoire des lieux et des temps, Espace photographique de Paris

Regards croisés, Centre des Bords de Marne, Le Perreux


Métamorphoses parisiennes, Pavillon de l'Arsenal, Paris


- Berner Photo Gallery, Berne, Switzerland


- Quizaine de Cholet 


Ten Contemporary French Photographes, Santa Barbara Museum of Art et Lincoln Art Center, Santa Rosa


- Mai des Flandres, Grignan & Week Gallery, Zurich


- Galerie Paule Pia, Anvers


- 6th Biennial of Paris



Itinéraire d'un photographe, Editions Bourgeno (ISBN 978-2955749500)


Bercy, une balade, exhibition catalogue, Bercy Village


Mémoire des lieux et des temps, exhibition catalogue, Espace photographique de Paris


Arts et métiers graphiques, n°90


- Les Murs de Mai 1968, Editions Pensée et Action

Prizes (selection)


Paris des photographes, Mention du Prix du Livre des Rencontres d'Arles

Hippolyte Bayard, naissance de la photographie, Prix Lecuyer


Paris des photographes, Tome 1, Prix Vasari 

- Paris des photographes, Tome 1, Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie


L'assassinat de Baltard, Mention du prix du Livre de Rencontres d'Arles


- Great Prize des Arts de la Ville de Marseille attributed by the Musée Cantini


- Great Prize of la Photographie d'avant-garde in Spain


- Prize of la FIAP (Landscapes)





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