Katier shows: Paparazzi! Photographers, stars and artists

From 26 February to 9 June 2014


In this original exhibition, Centre Pompidou-Metz examines the phenomenon and aesthetic of paparazzi photography through more than 600 works spanning multiple disciplines: photography, painting, video, sculpture, installation, etc.

Covering fifty years of celebrities caught in the lens, Paparazzi! Photographers, stars and artists considers the paparazzo at work by examining the complex and fascinating ties between photographer and photographed, going on to reveal the paparazzi influence on fashion photography. By associating some of the genre’s leading names, the likes of Tazio Secchiaroli, Ron Galella, Bruno Mouron and Pascal Rostain, with works by Richard Avedon, Raymond Depardon, Yves Klein, Gerhard Richter, Cindy Sherman and Andy Warhol, all of whom reflected on this modern-day myth, Paparazzi! Photographers, stars and artists sets out to define the paparazzi aesthetic.

The figure of the “paparazzi” was invented by Federico Fellini in his 1960 film La Dolce Vita as a contraction of “pappataci” (mosquitoes) and “ragazzi” (ruffians). Thus the practice of tracking celebrities in the hope of a candid shot has been around for more than half a century. Since then, this post-modern hero has become a legend of the popular press, akin to a war correspondent reporting from the frontline of fame. The profession of paparazzo is more complex than it seems. Paparazzi must be ingenious. They each have their tricks of the trade and tales to tell which together form the grand story of “paparazzism”.

Their targets are almost always women who epitomise their era’s feminine ideal: Brigitte Bardot, Jackie Kennedy-Onassis, Liz Taylor, Stephanie and Caroline of Monaco, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears… But celebrities are not just helpless victims. They defend themselves, prevent the photograph from being taken, even attack their assailant.

They can also be a willing accomplice, playing up to the camera and even setting up shots. Some go as far as to invent their own way of escaping the star system and its constraints. Since the 1960s and 70s, the attitudes adopted by these image-mongers have fascinated countless artists who, in one or other work, have stepped into the paparrazo’s shoes. Similarly, the paparazzi aesthetic (long lens, enlarged grain, flashes, etc.) has inspired works by many contemporary artists, including Viktoria Binschtok, Malachi Farrell, Kathrin Günter, Alison Jackson and Armin Linke.

A catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

Curator: Clément Chéroux, Curator, Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Photography Department. Associate curators: Quentin Bajac, chief curator of photography at Museum of Modern Art, New York Sam Stourdzé, Director, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne