If you are in Paris this fall, don’t miss Gary Zuercher’s “Glow of Paris” exhibition at the Hotel de Ville. It features a selection of 24 pictures from the photographer’s recent book “The Glow of Paris, The Bridges of Paris at Night” (Oct. 16-Nov. 30, 2023). The outdoor exhibition is free and open to the public 24/7 (Grilles de l’Hotel de Ville, 29, rue de Rivoli, 4eme).
Zuercher’s book, with its stunning black and white photos in the Ansel Adams tradition with stories about Paris’ legendary bridges, is a real gem. Shooting in the large-format film tradition, the photographer brings to life the city’s storied bridges. “I thought this would be a one-year project” says Zuercher. “In fact, it took more than five years to complete. And in reality it may never end because there is always another inspiring view to be found and photographed.”
Almost all the photos in the book were shot during the winter months, primarily because Paris isn’t fully dark in the summer until around 11pm. In the winter dark arrives early. As with mid-nineteenth-century photography in which the exposure time is by necessity long, Zuercher’s night pictures become hauntingly people-less placing them outside of time. Says Zuercher “Winter is an enchanting time to be alone, along the Seine. It is a time of serenity and emotion. It has been a moving experience to spend cold winter nights communicating with the river and the bridges.”
Many times —as with his photograph of the Pont Royal— the surfaces of sky and water play important roles. Here the bridge, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Eiffel Tower are sandwiched between a cloud-ridden sky and an icy river on which the lights of the three structures reverberate, producing opposing textures that evoke turmoil on the one hand and calm on the other
“The bridges are certainly alluring during the daytime,” says Zuercher. ” but at night they become majestic. They transform, with a luminescence that cannot be seen in the light of day. They glow.”