1968, or, as the French say, « Sixty-eight » : is a number, a word pertaining to History and Myth. Whatever the concrete results of the events related to it, this date remains a milestone in the evolution of collective behaviors, of relations between individuals and Society, in the transformation of political, moral, cultural expectations. And this remains true in spite of all hostile interpretations of this period which have flourished in recent times.
During the famous demonstrations then taking place in the streets of Paris, many photographers were present in the front line. But for an in-depth understanding of this period, these reports do not suffice, nor the descriptions of the Events, as people used to say, nor even a presentation of the most spectacular forms of this popular revolt. Philippe Gras is one of the few photographers who have been able to capture not only instants and crowds in motion, but also the general direction and meaning of such a period of innovations and protest.
The way he looked at the progress of musical creation, the way he captured the spontaneous gestures expressing the deep nature of artists, the way he looked at the city, at its streets, at the urban environment, all of this testifies of the importance for him of Movement. He was able to show things coming up in unexpected times and places. This is true of the political posters and slogans of the period, of all forms of criticism against a society driven by consumption, of the rejection and subversion of advertising. He aimed at putting together an inventory of all graphic expressions of refusal. His approach was free of hierarchical prejudices. For his work during this very special period, Philippe Gras will indeed be remembered as an artist able to immerse himself in popular ways of expression and in arts classified as minor as well as in artistic creations already endowed, or at least potentially endowed, with legitimacy and recognition.