Lartigue’s winter pictures
Jacques Henri Lartigue was only nineteen years old when he spent his first winter vacation in the Alps. Immediately captivated, he became a frequent visitor to the increasingly fashionable resorts of Chamonix, Megè ve, and Saint Moritz. The photographs that he took there are full of the adolescent wonderment that he was to maintain all his life. The exhilaration at being in the mountains and the awe inspired by the ethereal scenery of snowcapped summits are difficult to contain. Lartigue was overcome by the “dazzle of colorless light” that surrounded him: “I am in the negative of night!” he wrote in his journal at the time.
The young photographer’s joy was as fresh as it was lasting, reinforced by the inexhaustible pleasures of winter sports, which he discovered at the same time. He photographed all the fun and glamour of European high-society at play in the snow–intrepid sportsmen and women in action, displaying their athletic prowess at skiing, ice hockey, skating, curling, bobsleigh. . . . His pictures propel us between sky and land: skaters twirl, skiers jump, fir trees sway. But the mountains also harbor more contemplative, personal moments: his honeymoon with his young wife Bibi at Chamonix; skiing through “silence as soft as down”; the quiet poetry of a winter landscape.
Beautifully reproduced in duo-tone, this collection of winter photographs, the majority of which are published here for the first time, reiterate Lartigue’s positon as one of the great masters of twentieth-century photography.
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