With the digital age, reading habits have changed. Some fear that the internet, social media and e-books might have made crafts like book-making and printing redundant. But there is still plenty of art in books that the digital age can’t render passé, from the content itself to typography, to layout, to illustration, and even that artefact much loved of book collectors for centuries: the bookplate or ex libris.
By any standard, Jacques Henri Lartigue is a giant of photography. Despite beginning his career at a time when cameras were cumbersome and taking a photograph was often a slow and formal business, Lartigue loved “l\'instantané”, the snapshot. It may have been Henri Cartier-Bresson who said, “There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment,” but decades before he said it, Lartique was already capturing such moments. Lartigue, who was also a painter, was given his first large plate camera when he was seven. Starting from photographing friends and family, he went on to experiment with stereo or 3D photography, the early colour technique of autochrome, and a variety of formats and media including glass plates. In his hands, snapshots became works of art. On show at the F11 Photographic Museum as part of Le French May, “Return to Beauty – Jacques Henri Lartigue and His World” contains over 130 photographs of France, both during and after the Belle Epoque.
One day, when trumpet player Stéphane Belmondo was 18 and playing in a Parisian restaurant, the doorman came to him and said: "There is a gentleman who wants to enter, but he looks like a tramp.” That “tramp” was American jazz musician Chet Baker, who, next day, invited him on stage at the club in which he was performing and introduced him as the most promising European trumpet player. Although Baker, by this time heavily addicted to drugs, could be mercurial and unreliable, Stéphane says he acted almost like a father to him, and they became friends until Baker’s death a few years later. Stéphane’s here in our studio right now to talk about the tribute.