Air and Water

In this book, the first to be published on Lartigue in Portuguese, the photographer’s work is re-examined through two of the artist’s favourite themes: air and water. Lartigue’s zest for life is clearly expressed in images of flying or diving that range from calm and contemplative to giddy with speed.

Since it was donated to the French government in 1979, Jacques Henri Lartigue’s work has frequently been exhibited and published throughout the world. Although the public is familiar with his work, critical appraisal has wavered between nostalgia and awe; Lartigue is seen as both an amateur intent on capturing the charm of the Belle Epoque, and as one of the inventors of modern photography.

That duality is expressed here in images of a joy-filled world as seen through Lartigue’s optimistic eye. His photographs represent a thorough narrative of his life: games, family outings, friends’ portraits, sporting and social events… Lartigue’s unique talent lies in his ability to successfully capture fleeting moments — in particular, people and objects in motion, that exhilarating split-second when they are suspended in midair: playful antics, speeding automobiles, flying machines, summersaults and high dives…

An observer as well as a narrator of a privileged life even in his less prosperous times, Lartigue meticulously indexes these moments for the purpose of putting them in his beloved albums.


“D’air et d’eau” will be presented in conjunction with a major exhibition at the Moreira Salles Institute in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which opens on June 14, 2013.