Pakistani opium smokers, pimps and prostitutes in Pigalle, minors from Belgium or even Anna Karina released in the middle of the Halles, like a flower and in designer clothes, enthroned between a pile of rubbish, a pile of crates and a crowd of circumspect market gardeners… Wielding by turns withdrawal, irony and diversion, the French photographer Frank Horvat shook up post-war photography with his shots of astonishing liveliness.
Nearly two years after his death, in support of an exhibition dedicated to him at the Jeu de Paume, in the Château de Tours, a very beautiful catalog, the very first historical monograph, brings together more than 250 photographs taken between 1950 and 1965. From the margins and slums to the glossy magazines (English Vogue, Jours de France), the first fifteen years of his activity were marked by a taste for sulfur and women, the search for reality and the ethics of Photo report.
Fashion photography nourished him, but it served a purpose that was not Frank Horvat’s. This exercise annoyed him to no end. Unimpressed for two cents by frills and couture, he diverted the imagery and radically broke with the codes in force. Willing to be a voyeur, always a witness, the photographer took his models out of the studios to throw them into working-class Paris, as when leaving the metro, and got rid of their mannered poses. Iconoclastic, jumping brilliantly from one register to another while maintaining his independence, he sought to attract the attention of women. In return, he gave them all his.