Susan Sontag, Gore Vidal, Jeff Koons, Nadine Gordimer, Louise Bourgeois…This eclectic assortment of authors and artists share one thing in common: all have been photographed by Gérard Rondeau, and their portraits, along with 95 others, will be on display at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy from April 27 to May 29, on the occasion of the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature. Gérard Rondeau has photographed hundreds of celebrities from all walks of life, ranging from Carla Bruni to Léo Castelli, often for the French newspaper Le Monde. For this edition of his “Chronicles of a Portraitist,” he has highlighted writers, as the exhibition will take place in the midst of the PEN World Voices Festival (April 27 to May 3). The 100 portraits on display will feature such notables as Jean Baudrillard, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jacques Derrida, Gilbert & George, Claude Lanzmann, Roy Lichtenstein, Joan Mitchell, Patrick Modiano, Jean-Jacques Sempé, Richard Serra, Philippe Starck, and George Steiner. The exhibit’s curator, Christian Caujolle, is one of the founders and the artistic director of the VU photo agency. He has organized exhibits throughout the world (Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, Rotterdam, Seoul, Tokyo, Venice).
This special literary edition of “Chronicles of a Portraitist” will celebrate one of the world’s biggest gatherings of world-class writers. This year, the PEN World Voices Festival will bring together more than 160 writers from 40 countries for a week of cross-cultural literary exchange. A number of French-speaking writers will participate in the more than 60 scheduled events, including Salwa Al Neimi, Muriel Barbery, Nicole Brossard, Bernard Comment, Frankétienne, Emmanuel Guibert and Dany Laferrière. In his photography, Gérard Rondeau avoids formalism but instead seeks casual, intimate shots. His portraits, all in black and white, are playful, intriguing and original, using unfamiliar viewpoints and unique framing. But he has not confined himself to portraiture, far from it. He has traveled throughout the world: chronicled life in Sarajevo during its siege, portrayed contemporary Morocco while alluding to the paintings of Delacroix, followed Médecins du Monde doctors on their missions to some of the world’s most dangerous hotspots. His photos have been exhibited in Paris, Jakarta (Indonesia), Buenos-Aires (Argentina), Lausanne (Switzerland), Rome (Italy), Berlin (Germany) and he has published over 30 books, including Gérard Rondeau, Chroniques d’un portraitiste 1986-2006 (Seuil / Scérén-CNDP), which is connected to this exhibit.