Jean-Claude Gautrand



Jean Claude Gautrand was born December 10, 1932, in Saint en Gohelle, we know his pictures of the landing beaches, the series "deconstruction of Les Halles and Baltard pavilions." He was the artist witness of that pre-seventy era, which some call the Pompidou period. In 1974, he was present as exhibition curator for the first selection of Arles International Photography Meetings. The works exhibited at "W-Photo", from "Métalopolis", transpose us both as witnesses and actors in this era of major projects.


"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





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