Philippe Vermès set up his 4x5 inch room in an improvised studio along a road, not far from a gas station, during several biker gatherings in the late 1980s in Loudon, New Hampshire and Sturgis, South Dakota. Located near Mount Rushmore where the heads of four American presidents are carved in the rock, Sturgis is a village next to the Badlands. The result is far from the traditional myth conveyed by the legends of the West (the frontier, the wanderings, the Indians).
Philippe Vermès wanted to know more, to approach the myth "from the inside" in a way. Attracted by the camera and the magic of the negative/positive Polaroid, the bikers came to pose with their motorcycles, their compagnions, their families, their animals. The result is indeed far from the sulphureous images that are part of their legend. On the contrary, these portraits, mixed ages, sexes and progressions, bring together sensitive, natural and mischievous human beings.
Philippe Vermès, the itinerant portraitist of the small towns of yesteryear, grants them the right to be seen without value judgment, because he accepts them as they are. His portraits are full of information, full of details rich in observation that emerge from two traditions, that of photography and that of painting. A classically trained painter turned photographer, Philippe Vermès is the logical depository of these two related approaches.
Born in 1942, Philippe Vermès is a French artist photographer who lives and works in Paris.
A graduate of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, the photographer and portraitist transcribes with the eye of a painter in love with black & white portraiture.
- Visages d'une construction, Galerie Jean-Pierre Lavignes, Paris
- Mais pour vivre il faut, Musée Nicéphore Nièpce, Chalon/Saône
- A la recherche du père, Galerie L'espace photo, Paris
- FOTO 68, The Netherlands
- Mois de la Photo, Collection Paris-Audiovisuel, Mairie du 16e, Paris
- Portraits, Foto Galerie, RFA, Hamburg
- Portraits d'artistes, Galerie Downtown, Paris
- American Bikers, Galerie Alpha du Lion, Paris
- Portraits-Autoportraits, Montpellier
- Portraits de sculpteurs, Galerie Daniel Sarver, Paris
- Centre culturel, Chelles, Seine-et-Marne
- La Closerie des Lilas, Paris
- La Chambre, C.N.P, Palais de Tokyo, Paris
- Manhattan, Galerie Village Voice, Paris
- L'album de famille, Galerie Claude Aubry, Paris
- La Maison Française, New York University, New York City
- L'un par l'autre, collective work, Collection Photo Poche, Editions Actes Sud
- Visages d'une construction, La Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris
- La Chambre, Clémence de Biéville, Editions Joca Seria, Lausanne
- A la recherche du père, Viviane Esders, Editions Paris Audiovisuel, Paris
- A Pictorial Essay On Harley Davidson Owners, Harley Davidson Inc. & Iris Publications, Florida
- Straightening Out The Corners : Portraits of American Bikers, Iris Publications, Florida
- Portraits Polaroïd, La Closerie des Lilas, Paris
- Internship supervisor of portraits at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie, Arles
- Kodak Gold Portrait Award, France
- Photographer in residence at the Noesis Foundation, Spain
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