Jeu de Paume presents a comprehensive exhibition dedicated to the renowned photographer Frank Horvat, marking the largest retrospective since his passing on October 21, 2020. Titled “Frank Horvat. Paris, the World and Fashion,” the exhibition delves into the first fifteen years of his extraordinary career. Spanning from 1950 to 1965, Horvat established himself as a distinctive author-reporter and fashion photographer. This exhibition offers a fresh perspective on the works of this prominent figure in French and European photography.
Drawing from the extensive archives housed in Horvat’s studio-home in Boulogne-Billancourt, the exhibition showcases a selection of one hundred and seventy prints and seventy archival documents, including publications, writings, books, and contact sheets. In addition to his iconic images, lesser-known and previously unseen photographs are also presented, providing a glimpse into the breadth and uniqueness of his complex and multifaceted body of work. These works are placed within the larger context of the history of photography and the post-war illustrated press.
Following the success of the exhibition presented at the Château de Tours in spring 2022, Jeu de Paume decided to offer an expanded version of the exhibition in Paris. This augmented presentation will feature a distinct collection of photographs and a multitude of fashion magazines, shedding light on the socio-cultural context in which these images were created. It was during a period marked by the rise of ready-to-wear fashion and significant shifts in women’s social status, which profoundly influenced the conventions of the genre.
Curated by Virginie Chardin, the exhibition receives support and contributions from Studio Frank Horvat in Boulogne-Billancourt, as well as Fiammetta Horvat, daughter of Frank Horvat. RATP and Insert are proud partners of the exhibition, and associated media outlets include Paris Match, Paris Premiere, Télérama, Vanity Fair, and Vogue.
The catalog of the exhibition held at the Jeu de Paume in Tours in 2022 showcases over 250 post-war photographs by Frank Horvat, taken between 1950 and 1965.
About the Author
Frank Horvat, an internationally acclaimed fashion photographer, enjoyed a remarkable career spanning seven decades. He fearlessly embraced both fashion photography and traditional “reportage” styles, consistently pushing the boundaries of conventional photography. Regarded as one of the pioneers of modern French fashion photography, his artistic journey was characterized by diversity and complexity. His photographs exude spontaneity, trust, and empathy, capturing a sophisticated essence.
During the late 1950s, Frank Horvat revolutionized fashion photography by challenging the stagnant conventions of studio-based shoots. He captured the vibrant energy of urban life, placing his models in real-life settings that blended realism with artifice. This innovative approach, akin to photojournalism, had a profound impact on the genre. Throughout his career, Horvat continued to explore cities and urban landscapes, maintaining the style and subjects that initially captivated him. Although renowned for his groundbreaking fashion images, he also excelled as a street photographer. His career began in the documentary field, working with European photo agencies such as Realities and Black Star.
Born in Italy in 1928, Frank Horvat discovered his passion for photography at the age of fifteen, using a 35mm Retinamat camera. He later relocated to Milan to study art in 1947, and by 1950, he was freelancing for Italian fashion magazines. In 1951, his first photographic essay was published in Epoca. Horvat was among the early adopters of using 35mm film cameras and reportage techniques in fashion art photography. His more realistic and innovative style quickly gained recognition, influencing photographers in England, France, and the United States. His photographs, characterized by a blend of realism and artifice, movement, and imaginative locations, graced the pages of leading European and American magazines, including Life, Elle, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, and Jardin des Modes from 1951 to 1961. Initially affiliated with the American picture agency Magnum, Horvat relocated to Paris three years later and divided his time between the city and the south of France. His contributions to French fashion photography have been showcased in exhibitions worldwide, accompanied by numerous publications and museum retrospectives.
Frank Horvat was a cosmopolitan individual who spoke five languages and possessed complete artistic independence. He continuously sought to capture the essence of the fashion and style world, while also documenting the everyday world around him. His ability to create captivating and uniquely beautiful photographs set him apart as a trailblazer. In 2020, at the age of 92, the photographer passed away, leaving behind an indelible photographic legacy.
Frank Horvat: Paris, the World and Fashion
From 16 June to 17 September 2023
Jeu de Paume – Paris