French photographer and filmmaker Eli Lotar (1905-1969) is featured with a retrospective at Paris’ Jeu de Paume. Although now he is not known by many outside the cognoscenti in the late twenties and thirties he was considered among Paris’ top photographers (to May 28, 2017). Lotar (Eliazar Lotar Theodoresco) was born in Paris, the son of Tudor Arghezi, a Romanian poet. After spending his childhood in Bucharest he returned to Paris in 1924. He became the assistant and close friend of the Germaine Krull (1926), who taught him about photography. While only in his early twenties Lotar quickly became one of the city’s leading avant-garde photographers.
His work —influenced by surrealism and new vision— was published in the magazines “Vu,” “Jazz” and “Documents” while being exhibited throughout Europe. His best known photo series is a reportage on Paris’ La Villette’s slaughterhouses (1929). Lotar also worked with filmmakers such as Jacques Brunius, Louis Bunuel, Jean Painlevé and Jean Renoir as a set photographer or as a cameraman. Included in the exhibition is “Aubervilliers” (1946), a poetic documentary film with words by Jacques Prévert he directed. The film, dealing with urban poverty, received some recognition at the time but didn’t lead to further films for Lotar.
The exhibition opens with a photo portrait of Lotar (artist as a young man) and ends with a sculpture of Lotar made by Alberto Giacometti. For both Lotar and Giacometti this was a last artistic collaboration. Lotar took photos of his old friend from their surrealist days in the twenties and also posed for the artist. Lotar was Giacometti’s last male model. Both men died not long after. Giacometti died in 1966, Lotar a few years later… the end of an era
Eli Lotar, to May 28, 2017, Jeu de Paume, Paris
Photo caption: Portrait by Eli Lotar of actress Wanda Vaugen, 1929