Jacques-Henri Lartigue

Born 1894. Died 1986.
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Jacques-Henri Lartigue Biography

Movement was a constant source of inspiration for the French photographer and painter Jacques-Henri Lartigue (1894-1986), whose most memorable images of automobile races, planes, and fashionable ladies on promenade capture perfect moments of action and excitement.

Born to a prosperous family in Courbevoie, Lartigue was given his first camera for his seventh birthday, in 1901. A present from his father, a wealthy banker and amateur photographer, the camera ignited Lartigue’s life-long passion for photography. Initially aided by his photographer father, the young Lartigue photographed his world: his adventurous older brother Zissou, his cousin Bichonnade jumping, his nurse Dudu, model airplanes, racing cars—the characters and settings that populated his privileged world. As Lartigue grew, so did his universe; his photographs reflect this, adding the fashionable set of Paris, his lovers, and his wives to his existing repertoire.

Having earned an income for most of his career as a professionally-trained painter, Lartigue began to receive recognition for his photography in the 1950s. On a trip to New York in 1962, he met with Charles Rado, founder of the photo agency Rapho, who introduced him to John Szarkowski, director of the photography department at The Museum of Modern Art. Lartigue’s first exhibition of photographs was staged by MoMA in 1963.

Lartigue was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1975, and donated his archive to the French government in 1979. His work can be found in innumerable institutional collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Princeton University Art Museum, and the George Eastman House, Rochester.

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Artist Image: © The Estate of Yousuf Karsh