Art On Camera, Shunk & Kender

Two European photographers, Harry Shunk (1924–2006) and János Kender (1937–2009), who documented the Paris and New York art scenes —from “Nouveau Réalisme” to “Performance Art” to “Earth Art”— during the late 1950’s to the early 1970’s, are exhibited at the Centre Pompidou (until August 05, 2019).

Shunk and Kender met in Paris in 1957 and started taking commissions for artists and their galleries documenting art events, exhibitions and performances. The exhibition captures the zeitgeist of those times revisiting Paris’ vibrant art scene as seen by the duo including photos made for the iconic Yves Klein photomontage “Saut dans le vide” (1960), pictures they took of Niki de Saint Phalle during her pop gun art “shooting sessions” and other rare moments such as Andy Warhol’s first visit to Paris.

In 1967 the two followed Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely to Montreal, before moving on to New York, where they were taken in by Claes Oldenburg, whom they had met in Paris during his first exhibition at the Sonnabend Gallery in 1964. Joining the New York art scene they photographed performances by Yayoi Kusama and Nam June Paik, choreographies by Trisha Brown and Merce Cunningham and the legendary “Pier 18” project.

The roles played by the duo varied from one project to the next. In some cases, Shunk-Kender worked as documentarians, photographing Happenings and performances; in other instances, they were actively collaborating with artists creating with them “art on camera.” In 2008, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation acquired the duo’s photographs, which it then shared with the Centre Pompidou and several other major institutions. The current exhibition is a rare opportunity to revisit two interesting photographers little known outside the art cognoscenti.

Shunk-Kender, “Art Through the Eye of the Camera, 1957-1983,” Galerie de Photographies at the Centre Pompidou (Until August 05, 2019). Free admission.