Francois Kollar, a Working Eye

The Jeu de Paume hosts a retrospective of Francois Kollar’s photographs  (to May 22). Although little known outside the photo cognoscenti Kollar was among the most innovative and experimental of France’s commercial photographers during the 30’s and 40’s. Considered a French photographer Kollar— like many other important photographers such as Robert Capa and Brassai who made their careers in France —came here from Eastern Europe. Kollar moved to Paris from Hungary in 1924. He lived and worked the rest of his life in France until his death in 1979.

Kollar worked with such fashion magazines as “Harper‘s Bazaar” where he photographed the period’s fashion celebrities (Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, Pierre Balmain)  and made advertising photos for the major fashion houses (Hermès, Molyneux, Oméga, Christofle and Worth et Coty perfumes). The exhibition illustrates how he used a wide variety of “new vision” photographic techniques, creating original compositions using backlighting, double exposures, multiple exposure printing and solarisation.

In 1930, after exhibiting at “Das Lichtbild,” an international photography exhibition in Munich with Florence Henri, André Kertész, Germaine Krull and Ergy Landau, Kollar received a major commission from a publishing company, Horizons de France entitled “La France travail” (1931-1934) which established his reputation as one of the period’s best industrial reporters.

The first part of the exhibition features Kollar’s experimental period including self-portraits taken in his Parisian studio, as well as his work for advertising firms and the fashion industry. The central part of the exhibition, devoted to “La France travail” (1931-1934), features vintage prints and slideshows, as well as archives and publications. The third part of the exhibition presents works by Kollar from the period following his “La France travail” project, notably fashion photography and commissions for industrial reporting assignments.

Francois Kollar, a Working Eye, to May 22, 2016, Jeu de Paume, Paris