Rodin’s Balzac at LACMA • 1968
This is the former presentation at Los Angeles County Museum
where it is now displayed among palm trees.
Rodin’s Balzac, at carrefour Vavin, Paris • 2014 — in the most natural and appropriate of the seven settings, where I’ve photographed this magnificent sculpture in the almost 50 years, since I took it as a class project, in portraiture, as a student at LA Art Center… because I wanted to understand how Rodin could imbue that form with dimensions that conveyed the depth of character and power of the man, Balzac.
I came upon Balzac in his milieu, while walking back from photographing the statue of Alfred Dreyfus. It was a surprise because the only edition of this work that i knew of was in Musée Rodin, which is a pretty sculpture garden setting but also artificial. This is the best place, in the world, to see this work, in a natural habitat.
Decisive Moment — le moment décisif
The street photographer’s bird of prey…
You can’t catch this; you really have to be doing something else when it happens and you’re there… then you either press the button or you don’t. In this case, I was following a Muslim family walking in the crown — shooting for a project I’ve been working on for over ten years that I call: “Muslim people living normally in Europe.”
It’s my statement against Islamophobia, from what I see of my Muslim neighbors being the regular humans that they are.
The first image is of a little boy acting badly; the second of his big brother shamed by his need for protection… The mother’s response is universal.
Since I do this work to delight myself, I consider these images the product of a very good day.
These photographs were made yesterday at the Fête de Saint-Louis, Sète’s big end-of-season extravaganza with bands playing until 4am and the regional finals for jousting from boats on the canal. Basically a big all day/all night street party marking the end of the tourist season when my village begins the process of returning to the quasi-quiet fishing village, port and suburb of Montpelier & Beziers that it is after the summer herds of mostly French, Dutch, German, Swedish & British tourists move on.
On August 6th, I posted:
Fr — Paris • 1998
Statue of Alfred Dreyfus
Martyr to reactionary French Catholic Anti-Semitism
Dreyfus triggered France’s move to a secular society.
This is a terrible photograph of a minor statue
to a major figure in French history.
I hope to make a better photograph of it
before this posts either to replace or compare.
I did not manage to accomplish that by the 6th but on the 13th I spent two hours walking from the Marais to this relatively obscure park in Montparnasse where the statue — which should be prominently displayed in the École Militaire if not the Parthenon — is tucked away; there, a week later than I’d hoped, I spent a couple of hours thinking about Alfred Dreyfus and & making these photographs.
Alfred Dreyfus deserves to be remembered for his extraordinary character and courage not for his victimization. More to come…jt