Dead Blogging ‘Paris Night & Day’ at BC’s McMullen Museum

Well the Missus and I trundled out to the McMullen Museum at Boston College to catch Paris Night & Day: Photography between the Wars, and say, it was swell.

Representing the City of Light at its most romantic and its most sinister, the images in Paris Night & Day: Photography between the Wars show how photographers like Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Ilse Bing, André Kertész, Bill Brandt, Lisette Model, Dora Maar, and Brassaï used their cameras and darkrooms to represent modern subjects in startling new ways.

Representative samples include this iconic photo by Cartier-Bresson:

 

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And this self-portrait by Bing:

 

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And this portrait of Madame Bijou by Brassai:

 

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And this photo of Piet Mondrian’s glasses and pipe by Kertész:

 

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As for the rest, the Boston Globe’s redoubtable Mark Feeney can do the exhibit far more justice than I ever could. From his review last week:

How could photographers not be attracted to Paris? As God loves all his children, so the camera loves all Earth’s cities: their scale, their energy, their endless array of possibility. It’s just that some cities are loved more than others: New York, San Francisco, Prague, Paris — Paris supremely. And Paris during these years may have been the city at its most camera-ready. The Ancien Régime Paris so cherished by Atget, where neighborhoods that had escaped Baron Haussmann’s urban renewal could look nearly medieval, coexisted with a Deco city, sleekly up to the minute and electrically illuminated.

The illumination was no small thing, even in avant-garde circles, as the title of a 1930 Man Ray photogram here, “Electricité,” reminds us. So many of the images in “Paris Night & Day” present a beguiling visual balance, with a postwar newness and excitement enlivening the city’s elegant solidity. No image captures that balance better, or more spectacularly, than Brassaï’s “Paris From Notre Dame.” A cathedral gargoyle crouches in the foreground. In the background, a literally electric city looks all but celestial.

The Globe review didn’t include that photo, so we will here:

 

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Afterwards, all the Missus and I wanted to do was get on a jet headed to CDG. But it was back to Brookline instead.

Tant pis.

 

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