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WE ARE IN THE SUMMER 1954, WHEN ROBERT DOISNEAU WENT TO THE GOUFFRE DE PADIRAC AND DECIDED TO IMMORTALISE THIS UNMISSABLE SITE IN THE DORDOGNE VALLEY, A REGION THAT HE LIKED AND THAT HE VISITED VERY REGULARLY WITH HIS FAMILY FROM THE TIME OF THE FIRST PAID HOLIDAYS IN 1937. THE EXHIBITION DISPLAYS A NUMBER OF PHOTOGRAPHS OF A TIMELESS GOUFFRE DE PADIRAC : THE NATURAL SITE AND ITS EMPLOYEES, MARVELLING VISITORS, AS WELL ASPRETTY REGIONAL SCENES.
The "Robert Doisneau" exhibition at the Gouffre de Padirac was designed in close collaboration with Atelier Robert Doisneau, which was established by Annette Doisneau and Francine Deroudille, the photographer's two daughters, to ensure the conservation and representation of his work; and with Laurence Fontaine, architect-scenographer for the Centre Pompidou and Atelier Robert Doisneau, for which she designs many exhibitions.
This exhibition, with its original scenography, was designed to highlight Robert Doisneau's photographs and preserve the naturalness of the site. It brings together fifty pictures and is based on two themes: the visit to the Gouffre de Padirac, and the Dordogne Valley region, in the summer of 1954.
On the approach to the Reception Pavilion, visitors can admire the well, an incredible cavity that is 33 metres in diameter and 75 metres deep. Before them, a canvas over 30 metres high is draped over the Eiffel-style Grand Escalier, thus offering the first large-format pictures of the exhibition.
There follows a series of gazes turned upwards. They are extracts of photographs in which the visitors of the time, ephemeral actors in the pictures, are fascinated by the vaults of the underground rooms and galleries of the Gouffre. Once at the bottom of the well, visitors can appreciate a standard museum hanging that charts Robert Doisneau's tour when he immortalised the Gouffre de Padirac: the Reception Pavilion, the Troglodyte Restaurant, the guide-boatmen, the underground galleries and rooms, etc.
At the Lac des Gours, the exhibition ends with a series of pictures of the region, presented in backlit boxes that melt into the darkness to highlight only the beauty of the landscapes and the anonymous people photographed by Robert Doisneau.
Born on 14 April 1912, Robert Doisneau studied graphic arts at the École Estienne. After obtaining a qualification as engraver and lithographer in 1929, he turned towards advertising photography, then industrial photography for the Renault factories in Billancourt. He learnt the basics of variety in photography and illustration.
Robert Doisneau became an independent photographer in 1939; unfortunately, the outbreak of the Second World War put an end to his plans. In 1946, he officially joined Agence Rapho, the leading photo-journalism agency in France, founded in 1933.
Robert Doisneau carried out several photographic reportages on greatly varied themes: Paris, its suburbs, the provinces, anonymous individuals, scenes from daily life, faces that were more famous, etc. 60 years of a photographer's life, almost 500,000 images produced… a rich and diversified body of work.
Robert Doisneau called himself a "fisher of images"; his style: black-and-white pictures, reportages that were humanistic, realistic, tender, and poetic.
Laurence Fontaine, Scenographer
Loyal to the Centre Pompidou in Paris, where she has worked permanently for almost 30 years, Laurence Fontaine also collaborates with prestigious institutions like AFAA, Centre Pompidou Metz, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, the Musée du Jeu de Paume, the Musée du Quai Branly, the Palais de Tokyo, the Musée National du Grand Palais, and the Musée Picasso.
She is the scenographer for Atelier Robert Doisneau, for which she has designed several exhibitions in France, Belgium, Italy, Japan, and Azerbaijan. Laurence Fontaine recently designed several inaugural exhibitions for Museums (including the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris and the Louvre Abu Dhabi). She is currently collaborating with Maison Hermès to design the scenographies for a cycle of exhibitions around the world.
Emphasising the fields of modern art, contemporary art, photography, and architecture in the exhibitions that she puts on, the play "NOIRE", in co-production with the Théâtre des 2 Rives in Rouen and the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris, enables her to explore a new field.
The exhibition «Robert Doisneau au Gouffre de Padirac» required 5 days of assembly by our technical team, and the help of a group of climbers, professionals of difficult access works, to position the monumental tarpaulin of more than 30 meters in height that adorns the Grand Escalier in Eiffel style.
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Want to learn more about Robert Doisneau and his attachment to the region... Meet at La Gare Robert Doisneau, a unique place dedicated to photographer in the heart of the Périgord Noir, in Carlux.