Florence Henri, Mirror of the Avant-Garde

“What I want above all in photography is to compose the image as I do with paintings…” said Florence Henri in 1927. The American born Paris-based painter did just that as she turned her attention to photography that year after taking a summer course at Moholy-Nagy’s  legendary Bauhaus.

With “Miroir des Avant-Gardes, 1927-1940” the Jeu de Paume presents a large selection of Florence Henri’s work from 1927 to 1940, including her self-portraits, abstract compositions, portraits of artists, nudes, photomontages, photocollages, as well as documentary photos taken in Rome, Paris and Brittany. The exhibition comprises vintage prints, various documents and published material from period illustrated magazines such as “Arts et Métiers” and “Lilliput .”

During the 20’s and 30’s Henri’s experimental “new vision” photographs using mirrors, super impositions and exaggerated perspectives were included in major exhibitions making her an important figure of the European Avant-Garde. Her photography school counted Lisette Model and Gisèle Freund among its students. But with WWII and the years after Henri turned her attention back to painting. It was the end of an era. “Mirror of the Avant-Garde” pays a much overdue tribute to a major “modern” photographer, who in Moholy-Nagy’s words explored spatial relationships “from a totally new perspective and viewpoint.”

Florence Henri, Mirror of the Avant-Garde, to May 17, 2015, Jeu de Paume