Some of the most popular postcards of Paris during the 1950s and 1960s featured the black and white photography of Albert Monier. The Orangerie of the Senate, located in the Luxembourg Gardens, presently is offering an exhibition of Monier’s photography, including images from the postcard series, as well as images of rural France and of North Africa. His images of Paris are less populated than those of Doisneau. He had a special empathy for the men of the working class and those even poorer, and when people do appear in his photography, they are more likely to be homeless or extremely poor than to be nattily dressed and smooching in front of the Hôtel de Ville. In fact, in the one photograph in this exhibit where couples are shown kissing under a bridge, at the end of line of lovers is a homeless man. Paris has changed much since the 1950s, the men labeled “clochards” in these photos would never be called that in the politically correct jargon of today (where SDF or “sans domicile fixe,” “without a fixed address” would be the preferred term). However, this window on an old world is a pleasant way to spend the afternoon and become acquainted with a photographer well deserving of our consideration.
Albert Monier, (1915-1998) worked outside the established world of commercial printing, creating his own postcards on photographic paper in his own lab. Using a small number of images, he managed to gain a popular foothold in the world of postcard photography, then dominated by Editions Yvon. However, I was even more impressed by his photography of people in the villages and the farm fields of the countryside.
The exhibition is only for a short period of time, some eleven days, until the 13th of September, 2009. So, if you won’t have the chance to see it, then watch this fine 6 minute documentary clip made in 1995, just a few years before Monier’s death. Click on the Couleur Cantal Video image on the right.