Pompidou shows paparazzi shots alongside fine art
Centre Pompidou-Metz hangs pap shots alongside Warhol to examine our relationship with news and gossip
In 1964, when Andy Warhol created 16 Jackies, his multiple portrait of Jackie Kennedy assembled from news images, the work was regarded by many as among his most strident pieces, and is seen today as a high point within one of Warhol’s most productive periods.
When, a few years later, Jackie Kennedy-Onassis obtained a restraining order to prevent the intrusive American showbiz photographer Ron Galella from coming within 150 feet of her and her children, Galella’s tabloid photographs were seen as less than exemplary, and certainly not the sort of thing to be hung on a museum’s walls.
Nevertheless, the current exhibition at Centre Pompidou-Metz, Paparazzi!, does place Warhol alongside Galella and other paparazzi photographers in an exhibition which curator Clément Chéroux says does not “take a position on the rights or wrongs of paparazzi photographs.”
Instead, as Chéroux told the Guardian, “What we try to do is to take a step back and to look at the subject scientifically. The phenomenon exists and its existence says a lot about our rapport with the media, celebrity, rumour, gossip, as well as our relationship with the news."
It's high-mined ambition for a show which could be seen to be a base crowd pleaser, yet Paparazzi!, which runs until 9 June at Galerie 3 in Centre Pompidou-Metz, north-eastern France, seems to have balanced showbiz snaps with more careful meditations on the nature of newsworthy imagery.
Richard Avedon, Raymond Depardon, William Klein and Gerhard Richter works are hung alongside the tabloid fare of Pascal Rostain and Bruno Mouron, Tazio Secchiaroli.
The show does not feature France's most famous paparazzi scoop of recent times, Sebastien Valiela's shots of Francois Hollande leaving Julie Gayet's house. In an AFP report, Valiela says he offered the gallery the images, but they declined. The exhibition is showing other shots by Valiela; however, he won't be booking a booth at Art Basel anytime soon.
"I don't consider myself an artist, just a journalist” he said. “I'm not looking to make something beautiful, I'm trying to provide information in my photos." And yet, whether that information is regarded as lowly news or high art seems, today, to be more the prerogative of the viewer not the snapper.
Visit the show’s site here. For our wide selection of Warhol books, including a collection of his portraits, go here. For greater insight into the work of Cindy Sherman, consider our new overview, part of our ongoing Focus series. And to understand artistic practice within contemporary photography, pre-order our new book, Photography Today.