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Agence VU - François Fontaine
François Fontaine

French photographe born in 1968, distributed by Agence VU’ since 2008, lives in Paris

As an art history PhD, curator and editor-in chief for press magazines, François Fontaine early develops a special interest in travels and photography. From 1998 to 2002 he settles down in Madrid where he asserts his own photographic style and anchors his practice in a truly professional dimension.

Inspired by his encounters and long terms journeys - especially in Far East where he initially followed the footsteps of his father who used to be a naval officer - François Fontaine, transposes «  the reality of what (he) perceives in a symphony of colors and sensations, where poetry and reverie dominate ". Made by intuitions, by feelings, but also by pictorial and cinematographic recollections, his body of work invites in some timeless, chromatic and dreamlike journeys.

In 2012 Les Editions de l'Oeil published "Silenzio !" his photo essay on cinema and what it conveys : memory, dream, fantasy... Among numerous exhibitions, this works is presented within the framework of Leica centenary.
In 2015 his second monographic book is published by Editions Filigranes. "Rêve d'orient" gathers three works made between 2005 and 2008 ("Transsiberian", "Lost in China" and 'Japanese Whispers") and unveils a dateless and poetic vision of Asia.
In 2018, he resumed his reflection on cinema with his series "Icons" which pays tribute to the greatest female and male stars of the 7th art and is published by Éditions La Pionnière.

Frequently exhibited in France and abroad, running for prestigious prizes (Leica Oskar Barnack or Niépce prizes among others), his works are part of renowned collections such as those of Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Hermès Fondation, Fnac galleries, Leica Camera, Maison de la Photographie Robert Doisneau, Institut Lumière or Guangdong Art Museum.


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Portfolio

Series

Icônes (2018)

An icon is an image, an object of contemplation, an unequaled model. It is the archetype, the primitive and ideal near perfection model according to the ideas of Plato. It is the universal symbol of collective unconsciousness for the philosopher Jung. May it be secular or religious, an icon is as obsessive as it is fascinating. As with these movie icons, omnipresent in our contemporary societies. Movie stars are admired and desired, they are rich and powerful, they make us dream yet remain inaccessible. They mostly live as recluses, victims of their fame, and evolve in an enclosed world that makes them vulnerable or even destroys them. Their daily virtual presence is an illusion that...

Witness (2017)

'It is probable that we have all become passive witnesses, once again, to a barbaric act'' Günter Grass It is a photographic essay on the representation of contemporary wars through the media in which I analyse the impact of news footage and the violence they convey. It is a reflection on the meaning of images, on what they suggest and transmit, on the power they have to blur the benchmarks between fiction and reality. This work is a continuation of my photographic research on the theme of remembering, and it echoes my doctoral thesis, which was a study of the Spanish war as seen through the prism of the illustrated press. This photographic series was produced from details of...

Cosmos (2016)

« We dream of a journey through the universe. But is the universe then not in us? » Novalis In the last scene of Pier Paolo Pasolini's movie « Theorem », a mystical and metaphysical film, the manager of a Milanese factory takes his clothes off in a train station and runs naked in a desert. This man, yearning for freedom and the absolute, seeks to escape an anxiogenic urban society that alienates and enstranges him from his ideal. By escaping in this infinite desert, he regains his individuality and his part of eternity. Contemporary man, hemmed in by the chaotic world in which he evolves, turns his gaze towards the unknown and the elsewhere. He is attracted by space – this...

California Dream (2016)

California Dream is an invitation to embrak on a journey in the mythical world of the Californian surfers from the 60's. The surfers - to the sound of rock and roll and pop music - brought up as healthy American teens, move around like puppets in an explosion of flashy colors. In this fantasied Eldorado that is California, longboards are surfing through undulating waves in the flickering lights and the deep blue of the ocean.

American Dreams (2016)

American Dreams plunges the viewer in the history of America over the 60's. It is an immersion in the American Dream : with its glamorous icons, its Californian surfers, the conquest of space and its hippie aspirations. A dream that falls into violence and war, into the fight for civil rights and counterculture. American Dreams is a graphic and dreamlike series on a country that has always, because of the power of its mythology, been a source of fascination.

Supernature (2015)

Supernature is an imaginary safari which pays tribute to the forces of nature, its beauty and its poetry. A series in which animals roam in an environment, free of any human presence. The chromatic and dreamlike images were conceived like paintings to offer a sublime vision of an unspoilt nature.

Silenzio! (2012)

« Memory does not film, memory photographs” (Milan Kundera, Immortality) This a photographic essay on the cinema, on cinematographic images. A work in which movie stills are extracted from their initial medium and diverted from their original context. An analysis about movie stills, and the emotions and questions they raise when shown as photographs. A reflection about memory, dreams, fantasy. Styles, stories and periods interlink and blend in these images, each one echoing the others. They are the silent witnesses of fear and desire. They are timeless images that seem to surge out of the subconscious. Blurred, shaken, in movement in their very immobility, these images reflect...

Rêve d’Orient (Dream of the Orient) (2008)

Rêve d’Orient (Dream of the Orient) combines three series which were produced in the Far East between 2005 and 2008: Trans­Siberian, Lost in China and Japanese Whispers. These series were created as if they were movie scenes, the objective being to try to convey through the framing and a colorist approach, a timeless and poetic vision of Asia. In the summer of 2005, I travelled on the Trans­Siberian railway from Moscow to Beijing through Mongolia. While on board of this legendary train, I became interested in the silence of shapes, in the density of materials and in the sensuality of bodies. Then I crossed mainland China. Impressed with its dreamlike strength, I chose to translate the...

Books

Icônes

Avec la série Icônes, accompagnée d’un texte de Nina Bouraoui, François Fontaine poursuit son exploration du 7e art au moyen de la photographie. Cette série de portraits en couleurs de grandes stars féminines et masculines, réinterprétation picturale d’une scène de cinéma, a été réalisée à partir de films projetés sur écran.
Outre la fascination propre au pouvoir des icônes, le sfumato chromatique qui compose ces portraits rend ces stars encore plus intemporelles et mystérieuse. Leurs visages, pourtant célèbres, que l’on pourrait contempler indéfiniment, demeurent une énigme captivante qui nous charme et nous hante et que François Fontaine laisse à chacun le soin de déchiffrer.
Ce qui est le propre des mythes, des légendes et des icônes.

Parution le 7 novembre 2018
Text by: Nina Bouraoui

Publisher: La Pionnière (2018)
64 pages
Size: 24,5 x 33,5 cm  

Rêve d'orient

François Fontaine, whose favorite themes are timeless journey, poetry and dream, develop a photographic work by being guided by his intuitions and emotions, in the manner of a writer or a filmmaker who would realize his diary images. His inspiration mainly feeds his meetings, his voyages and film and literature that fascinated him since childhood.

His work takes us into chromatic and timeless journeys inspired by Eastern cultures. His favorite themes are poetry, melancholy and dream. It develops a photographic work by being guided by his intuitions and emotions.

My first "real" photography: Mekong Delta, Vietnam, October 1991. I was 23 and I realized my first big trip to Asia in the footsteps of my naval officer father. In Vietnam, I chose as the theme Mekong Delta with the viatical an old Olympus and the novels of Marguerite Duras. Looking elsewhere and absolute, my mind was filled with large photos of Bischof, Cartier-Bresson and Riboud. On my return to Paris, discovering this, I was certain that photography would accompany me everywhere and would be the key witness in my life.
François Fontaine, atypical case of the French art scene began, academically through studies in Art History at the Sorbonne University, realizing there his doctoral thesis. This multidisciplinary artistic theory fascinates very quickly to the medium of photography and travel.
Therefore, it is more of a traveler, the image of the poet, as a pure photographer. François Fontaine's speech appears simple and tender at once, especially when addressing the journeys of his life and chance encounters

Text by: Sara Daniel

Publisher: Filigranes Editions (2015)
96 pages
Size: 17 x 24 cm  

Exhibitions



Orient Dream (Paris )
From 2017-04-10 to 2017-06-17

The exhibition « Orient dream » presents the pictures series that François Fontaine has made in Asia since 1991. Fascinated by the greats civilisations from India to China by way of Cambodia, the photographer grasps the oniric and spiritual power of those changing countries. The artist which inspired by literature and cinema, invite us through his colorful pictures to a poetic and a sensory journey. For the exhibition preview on the 19th of april 2017 at 6:30pm, François Fontaine will sign the book « Orient dream » published by the Filigranes Editions.

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Silenzio ! Film memory (Bruxelles)
From 2015-09-15 to 2015-11-07

With Silenzio !, François Fontaine gave an a mute inventory of cinephile. These hazy photographs of iconic scenes glean into the history of cinema disseminate a sweet nostalgia, revealing only with time the intensity of their emotions. They are a tribute to the movies as much as photography, he uses the features of the still image to express his admiration of those that pass 24 times per second.

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Oriental Dream (Vendôme)
From 2015-06-19 to 2015-09-20


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Silenzio! (Paris)
From 2014-11-13 to 2014-11-16

Leica celebrates fine art photography with an exhibition of François Fontaine’s work entitled SILENZIO!. A tribute to the cinema from the 40s to today. A nostalgic and poetic voyage through the cinematic moments that have helped shape our culture. A reflection on memory, dream and fantasy. Leica Camera highlights the depth and breadth of the work produced by contemporary Leica photographers at Paris Photo. Deeply connected to its roots and to the photographers who have helped establish the legend of the brand, Leica unites past, present and future through its encounters with photographers....

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Silenzio ! Mémoires de cinéma (Kristiansund)
From 2014-05-06 to 2014-05-10

François Fontaine\'s series \"Silenzio ! Mémoires de cinéma\" is exhibited on the occasion of the Nordic Light International Festival of Photography in Kristiansund (Norway). Fontaine’s most recent oeuvre, Silenzio ! Mémoires de cinéma, explores the world of cinema, in a chromatic collection of illusory photographs, where glamour and suspense vie for centre stage. A book Silenzio! was published by de L’Œil to mark the exhibition of this work, which exhibited at the Hotel Jules et Jim in Paris, the Photo Gallery of the Institut Lumière in Lyon and the Cinema of the Pantheon in...

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Silenzio! Mémoires de cinéma (Paris)
From 2013-09-18 to 2013-12-06

« Memory does not film, memory photographs » (Milan Kundera, Immortality) This a photographic essay on the cinema, on cinematographic images. A work in which movie stills are extracted from their initial medium and diverted from their original context. An analysis about movie stills, and the emotions and questions they raise when shown as photographs. A reflection about memory, dreams, fantasy. Styles, stories and periods interlink and blend in these images, each one echoing the others. They are the silent witnesses of fear and desire. They are timeless images that seem to surge out...

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Silenzio! Mémoires de cinéma (Lyon)
From 2013-07-04 to 2013-09-01

« Memory does not film, memory photographs » (Milan Kundera, Immortality) This a photographic essay on the cinema, on cinematographic images. A work in which movie stills are extracted from their initial medium and diverted from their original context. An analysis about movie stills, and the emotions and questions they raise when shown as photographs. A reflection about memory, dreams, fantasy. Styles, stories and periods interlink and blend in these images, each one echoing the others. They are the silent witnesses of fear and desire. They are timeless images that seem to surge out...

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Silenzio ! (Paris)
From 2012-11-12 to 2012-12-22

« Memory does not film, memory photographs »\r(Milan Kundera, Immortality)\r\rThis a photographic essay on the cinema, on cinematographic images.\rA work in which movie stills are extracted from their initial medium and diverted from their original context. An analysis about movie stills, and the emotions and questions they raise when shown as photographs. A reflection about memory, dreams, fantasy.\rStyles, stories and periods interlink and blend in these images, each one echoing the others. They are the silent witnesses of fear and desire.\r\rThey are timeless images that seem to surge...

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Japanese Whispers (Paris)
From 2012-09-20 to 2012-11-17

Travelling to Japan was a child dream. Since ever, I was observing on the walls of our home, the prints of Utamaro and Harunobu that my father, a navy officer, had got back from a trip there.\r\rLeaving for Japan in spring 2008, I found again this universe that was clearly striking a chord. All along the trip, an hazy floating accompanied me. Like the Shoji, those doors that silently slide in the wooden grooves of the temples and of traditional houses, I was in a vaporous and silent world. \r\rThe similarity between people and nature was the most striking. Furtive silhouettes seen in bars...

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Lost in China (Mandelieu-la-Napoule)
From 2011-05-14 to 2011-05-22

On the occasion of the annual film festival "Visions Social" organized by the Works Committee of EDF during the Cannes Film Festival at Chateau de la Napoule in Mandelieu.\r\r "In the summer of 2005, I left in residence at the Art Museum of Guangdong, Guangzhou. I took the Trans-Siberian to Beijing and crossed China from north to south and south east. (...) Here are the traces, perfumes, impressions of this extremely contemporary and ancient China that I wanted to return in this photographic work, far from the usual documentary. "\rFrançois Fontaine

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Skin (collective exhibition) (Atri ( Regione Abruzzo))
From 2009-06-18 to 2009-08-18

The relationship between the different meanings and expressions of the word ‘skin’ is the theme of this exhibition. From the mummies of Alessandro Albert to the Miss Italys of Gianni Berengo Gardin, from Zed Nelson’s skin worked by plastic surgery to Annette Schreyer’s suffering skin of girls, Charles Frégers’ sumo wrestlers, 18 photographers speak of colours, pathologies, old age, discrimination and beauty. Some François Fontaine photographies from "night's flowers" story will be exhibited.

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Statuary (Paris)
From 2009-04-15 to 2009-06-14

The Maison Européenne de la Photographie presents François Fontaine’s work on XXX through two series “ Salvador de Bahia’s Chrits” and “ Dreams of statues”.About the Christs, the photographer recalls “ the carnival was in full swiing in Salvador de Bahia. I decided to shelter in holy places, quiet and inspiring, that the city was offering me. It was there, the heart of churches and museums of sacred art, that I realised how much the figure of the Christ was pregnant and incontrovertible in this country that was moving me a little more each day.”Dreams of Statue is a series done in the night...

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