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Philippe 70 01

Philippe Gras was an independent photographer, but more important, he had an independent mind, refusing all compromises. All his life, he directed his camera towards works, themes and artists in whom he believed, and with whom he nurtured a deep relationship. He aimed also his camera at social phenomena which were important for him. He never fell in any kind of elitism, all the contrary. By browsing through his archives, one can easily verify that he had a very sure taste regarding advanced creation. But one can as well testify that he devoted equal attention to popular culture and to all kinds of neglected visual productions, and also to musical productions coming from all the continents. He developed deep and long-lasting friendships with many musicians and creators. Among them was Robert Wilson, whom he met during the original production of Einstein on the Beach and with whom he had an important correspondence.

• born April 16, 1942 in Paris, 15th arrondissement, childhood avenue Félix-

1950s – beginning 1960s
• studies at the École Estienne d'arts graphiques, first employment in fashion industry, first photo essays of jazz concerts;

1960s – 1990s
• freelance work on jazz, free jazz, contemporary music, ethnic music, progressive rock, avant-garde dance and theater, collaborations with the French magazines Actuel, L’Art Vivant, Jazz Hot, etc.;
• photo works on the Student revolt of May 1968;
• participation to the festivals of Amougies, Isle of Wight, Châteauvallon, to the Pan African Festival of Culture in Algiers in 1969 and the Nuits de la Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul de Vence;
• Regular collaborations with the Festival des Arts contemporains in La Rochelle and the Festival d’Automne in Paris;
• Assistant or set photographer for Alain Corneau, Lê Lam, Jean-Noël Delamarre; co-author of short documentary films, featuring the trumpeter Don Cherry and the sculptor Raymond Delamarre;
• Various photo series dedicated to the Parisian Metro, London’s East End, movie posters, tattoos, pop images;
• Numerous voyages to Asia, especially to Vietnam where he met his wife, Suong, and to Cambodia where he took pictures for his photography book Angkor silencieux, with introduction by Michel Butor and Nouth Narang;

1982 – 2007
• collaboration with the Agence pour le Développement Régional du Cinéma;
creation of a collection of photographs chronicling the state of movie theaters in Paris and all over France;

22 February 2007
• sudden death in his Paris home in the 13th arrondissement, homage paid to him in Le Monde and on the national radio France Culture;

• 2008 : birth of the Association the Friends of Philippe Gras;  exhibition the Musical Eye of Philippe Gras at the Cité de la Musique in Paris, presented afterwards in nine other  places, in France and abroad. For other exhibitions, see chapter Events