This photograph is one of my all time favourites, too. One of those photographs which can be distilled into one word: Speed!
I think what JHL said (reportedly when he was 7 or 8 years old) also sums up something essential: “It's marvellous, marvellous! Nothing will ever be as much fun. I'm going to photograph everything, everything!”
I still get a kick out of that photograph and those words. The wonder of the world still lies in front of us.
“Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.” - Lao Tzu
What I like about all of the work from Lartigue that I have seen, is that it succeeds so wonderfully at being both an interesting/amusing artistic expression (to me it seems like poetry), while at the same time being a truly revealing "documentary" glimpse of the times that he lived in and of the social class he lived in. It is obvious that he was not worried about the mundane details of how to pay his bills because there is so much playfulness and beauty in his images. This might be because he was well off, financially, or just because he was playful and carefree by nature. I prefer to think the latter (for no real reason). It makes me think of Doisneau who also worked in Paris but a little bit later than Lartigue. The other important difference is of course that Doisneau was a professional photojournalist who very much needed to keep the bills paid. But still, when you look at lots of his work you see a real sense of humour and love of life. The difference is that the world of Doisneau is working class, and the world of Lartigue is aristocratic. To find someone with the skills and motivation of Doisneau in the working class is to be expected, really. But, to find someone like that in the aristocratic world is unique. That could be a whole other discussion itself.
The thing that matters, I think, is that all of these people succeeded so well at giving us a "window" on their world. I am including the work of Lee Friedlander here, which is actually discussed in a separate thread. The thing is that many people have said they do not find the Friedlander stuff to be artistically interesting, or something like that. Well, fair enough, but you can not deny that he susseeded in showing us what his world was like - not just what it looked like, but what it looked like to him - and perhaps his "poetic vision" is just not as appealing to many people as that of Lartigue.
Tim N. Roscoe
Originally Posted by David H. Bebbington
"He came from a well-to-do family."
Adams: wealthy family on the way down, married heir to concession in Yosemite who supported them. Arbus and Avedon: Fathers owned high-class clothing stores in NYC. Bourke-White: wealthy family. Cartier-Bresson: one of the "Great Families of France." Eisenstadt: poor immigrant, well-to-do family lost everything in post WW1 German inflation. Walker Evans: Father was successful stockbroker. Karsh: penniless immigrant. Kertesz: Banking family, came to America broke, wife developed wildly successful cosmetic business. Dorothea Lange: mother was social worker, father deserted them, she married tenured professor. Gene Smith: father made fortune in grain elevators, lost everything, committed suicide for the life insurance. Steichen: self-made, had very poor immigrant parents. Stieglitz: Rich father, married successful painter O'Keefe. Strand: Father was wealthy importer. Weston: family were upper-middle class professionals, he married one of the land-owning California Chandler family who raised the children and partially supported him until his second marriage.
Originally Posted by Sparky
Several of these people lived in abject poverty, but had family resources to fall back on.
money still doesn't buy talent, vision, work ethic, personality, charm, style, and so on and so forth. all qualities the greats had and have in droves.
It would seem almost a given that many (most?) early photographers would come from families with "means". Who else would have had the resources to purchase cameras, equipment, chemicals, film/plates etc.? [Same could probably said for many painters etc.]
Only after Kodak (and others) came out with the simple box camera did it become an instrument available to the middle and working classes - and even then there was the cost of film and developing etc.
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But it buys you the ability to chase a dream. What most folks back then were not able to do. Sure is a different world now.
Originally Posted by GraemeMitchell
About the image-First time ever heard of the guy. Great image, great feeling. Thanks for posting.
Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI
So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004
I love his work.
The car/speed photograph always brings a smile to my face in the cartoon type look of the wheels and the sort of hunched over huddled intensity of the drivers.
A lot of his work is a fantasy time in the affluent carefree days of the 30s (for some) that is so classy and elegant. Like the Fred Astaire movies like Top Hat and the great Art Deco period. Before WW2 and everything came crashing down.
I couldn't think of anything witty to say so I left this blank.
It works so well because it reminds you of a time when speed was visual and thrilling in a way it isn't today. Stirling Moss summed it up for me when he said that grand prix racing lost something when spectators could no longer see the driver's arms and his facial expression as he fought with the wheel.
Well here's a photographer's work that you can just pour over. There's something in every photograph that speaks in volumes. I really enjoy his work. Interesting that although he was a young man this image stands up with any great photographer of any age.
Prints available in the APUG GAllery
Lartique was a master at laughing at the pretensions of the wealthy society about him, the Victorian women in elegant clothing, the scenes he and his brother Zissou set up, the world falling in love with automobiles and airplanes. He documented many of the early European flying machines. Later he and his model girlfriend Renee were great friends of Jean Bugatti and the wealthy racing crowd.
Originally Posted by blansky