Karl Lagerfeld, A Visual Journey
Explores the wide-ranging motifs, approaches and media that define Karl Lagerfeld's astute and intensely personal interpretation of photography.
The exhibition reveals Lagerfeld’s many areas of interest including architecture, landscapes, Paris by night, portraits and self-portraits, fashion photography, and abstractions (an interest in the graphic characterizes many of his photos, regardless of their subject). Two grand photo installations - Daphnis and Chloe and Le Voyage d’Ulysse – complete this comprehensive display of Lagerfeld’s photographic oeuvre.
Never one to be restricted by a singular way of seeing, Lagerfeld adapts his photographic style according to his subject: «People always want to know from me what my photographic style is. I can’t say,» he explains, «Those who look at my pictures should say. I don’t have any style, but many or none. You must not stand still, not in life, not in fashion and not in photography.»
Such creative flexibility and the desire never to repeat himself shape Lagerfeld’s photographic vision, as does his ambition to preserve fleeting impressions that might otherwise slip by forgotten: «I like transience: fashion is my profession. But the transient quality of a photo is situated on a completely different plane to that of fashion. It is just as dangerous to want to take the same photo twice as it is risky to want to draw one’s inspiration from past collections. The famous ‘never again’ of a single moment to be seen in a photo gives it a further dimension, a kind of nostalgia of the moment without being old-fashioned.»
Despite Lagerfeld’s impressive productivity as a photographer, he began his photographic career relatively late. He took his first professional photos in 1987, then ironically more out of necessity than choice. «I would never have thought of making photos myself, if my friend, Eric Pfrunder, Director of Image at Chanel Fashion, had not one day pressed me to do so when he urgently needed photos for a presskit. Today photography is part of my life. It completes the circle between my artistic and professional restlessness.»
From the beginning, Lagerfeld has concerned himself as much with different photographic exposure and printing techniques, as with his compositions themselves. For him a photo is never just an image, but a visual object whose identity depends on the medium in which he brings it to life. Karl Lagerfeld, A Visual Journey thus presents the full spectrum of Lagerfeld’s photographic media, including daguerreotypes, platinotypes, Polaroid transfers, resinotypes, Fresson prints, screen-prints and digital prints. Until 20th March 2016 in Paris Pinacothèque.
(By Eric Pfrunder and Gerhard Steidl, curators of the exhibition)