MULTIMEDIA ART MUSEUM, MOSCOW
MUSEUM "MOSCOW HOUSE OF PHOTOGRAPHY"
Ru

The three lives of Agnes Varda

Agnès Varda.
Mardi Gras, 1953.
From the series Agnès Varda.
Maria Casarès and Jean Vilar. ‘Midsummer night's dream’.
Avignon, 1959.
Courtesy of the artist 
© Agnès Varda Agnès Varda.
Love in Griffith Park.
Los Angeles, 1968.
Courtesy of the artist 
© Agnès Varda Agnès Varda.
Catherine Deneuve, 1969.
Catherine Deneuve starred in the film ‘April madness’ with Jack Lemmon. This photograph was taken in her villa in Beverly Hills. Jacques was editing ‘Model shop’ and I was shooting ‘Lions Love and Lies’. It was in 1969 in Los Angeles.
Courtesy of the artist 
© Agnès Varda Agnès Varda.
The Black Panthers. Demonstration in Oakland,
1968.
Courtesy of the artist 
© Agnès Varda Agnès Varda.
The child in front of a rice plantation near Chongqing.
China, 1957. From the series «China».
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels © Agnès Varda Agnès Varda.
Members of the film school I.C.A.I.C. are dancing the Shack of Happiness. Model by Agnès Varda (2017). From the ‘Cinema Shacks » series.
The greenhouse: metal structure covered with Super-8 film from the film ‘Le Bonheur’ (1964), miniature sunflowers in pots, various elements, interior lighting with switch.
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels © Agnès Varda Agnès Varda.
Love in Griffith Park.
Los Angeles, 1968.
Courtesy of the artist 
© Agnès Varda Agnès Varda. 
Heart potato. 1953.
From the series Agnès Varda. 
Bienvenida in Veules -Les-Roses. 1954.
From the series Agnès Varda.
Luciano Visconti, 1962.
The magazine ‘Réalités’ had sent me to Rome to take portraits of Luciano Visconti. He accepted me because he appreciated my film ‘Cleo from 5 to 7’. His real and fake dogs made no less impression on me than he himself, serious and restrained
Courtesy of the artist 
© Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda. Mardi Gras, 1953. From the series "Remembrance of the exhibition in 1954". Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels © Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda. Maria Casarès and Jean Vilar. ‘Midsummer night's dream’. Avignon, 1959. Courtesy of the artist © Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda. Love in Griffith Park. Los Angeles, 1968. Courtesy of the artist © Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda. Catherine Deneuve, 1969. Catherine Deneuve starred in the film ‘April madness’ with Jack Lemmon. This photograph was taken in her villa in Beverly Hills. Jacques was editing ‘Model shop’ and I was shooting ‘Lions Love and Lies’. It was in 1969 in Los Angeles. Courtesy of the artist © Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda. The Black Panthers. Demonstration in Oakland, 1968. Courtesy of the artist © Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda. The child in front of a rice plantation near Chongqing. China, 1957. From the series «China». Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels © Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda. Members of the film school I.C.A.I.C. are dancing the "cha-cha-cha". Sarita Gomez, woman and children Havana, 1962—1963. From the series «Cuba». Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels © Agnès Varda

Shack of Happiness. Model by Agnès Varda (2017). From the ‘Cinema Shacks » series. The greenhouse: metal structure covered with Super-8 film from the film ‘Le Bonheur’ (1964), miniature sunflowers in pots, various elements, interior lighting with switch. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels © Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda. Love in Griffith Park. Los Angeles, 1968. Courtesy of the artist © Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda. Heart potato. 1953. From the series "Remembrance of the exhibition in 1954". Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels © Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda. Bienvenida in Veules -Les-Roses. 1954. From the series "Remembrance of the exhibition in 1954". Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels © Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda. Luciano Visconti, 1962. The magazine ‘Réalités’ had sent me to Rome to take portraits of Luciano Visconti. He accepted me because he appreciated my film ‘Cleo from 5 to 7’. His real and fake dogs made no less impression on me than he himself, serious and restrained Courtesy of the artist © Agnès Varda

Moscow, 12.04—26.05.2019

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As part of the XI International Biennale "Fashion and Style in Photos 2019"
As part of the XI International Biennale "Fashion and Style in Photos 2019"

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The Three Lives of Agnès Varda

12 April 2019 — 26 May 2019

Strategic partner of the museum: PIK
With the support of: Embassy of France in the Russian Federation, Institut Français

As part of the XI Moscow International Biennale ‘Fashion and Style in Photography-2019’ the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow presents a retrospective exhibition by legendary French director, photographer and artist Agnès Varda.

‘"I hope I don’t live beyond 45″, I thought, believing it was poetic to die young.’ Agnès Varda passed away on 29 March 2019, at the age of 90.

This ‘Grandmother of the New Wave’, as the French affectionately called her, altered our concept of documentary films. She posed for the covers of fashion magazines, danced with Angelina Jolie when she was awarded an honorary Oscar for outstanding achievements, fought cancer yet worked hard until the end, remaining curious and open to new ideas. But most of all, she was a great humanist. ‘It’s the others that I like, the others that interest me, that intrigue me passionately’, said Varda in the autobiographical film ‘The Beaches of Agnès’ (2008), considering this the key for understanding her work.

‘I never had a plan. I wait until something becomes so attractive that I have to do it. Curiosity is a good thing.’ Agnès Varda’s words spoken as part of an interview can be used as an epigraph for the exhibition. Moreover they explain the title of this project, ‘The Three Lives of Agnès Varda’. They help us understand how and why she completed one creative phase in life and moved to the next without hesitation — from photography to filmmaking, from filmmaking to modern art, then back to photography.

Agnès Varda was born in Belgium in 1928. Arriving in Paris, she studied literature and psychology at the Sorbonne and art history at the École du Louvre, while also attending photography evening classes at the School of Photography. Although initially intending to become a museum curator, after finishing the course in photography she changed her plans. She equipped a small photo laboratory and, armed with a secondhand Rolleiflex, began taking orders for photo shoots, working as a wedding photographer, taking family portraits, photographing her artist friends and simply wandering round the city in search of the ‘decisive moment’.

In the early 1950s Agnès Varda became official photographer at the Avignon Theatre Festival organised by Jean Vilar, and at the Théâtre National Populaire (TNP) also headed by Vilar. At that time Gérard Philipe, Jeanne Moreau and Philippe Noiret shone in the TNP, the centre of theatre life in Paris, and Varda quickly gained recognition as a theatre photographer and never paused to photograph ‘for herself’. During this period she visited Cuba, China, Portugal and Germany, returning from every trip with a large number of photographs. Meanwhile Agnès continued to take portraits of relatives, friends, artists and filmmakers such as Jacques Demy, Mario Prassinos, Germaine Richier, Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti.

In 1954 she organised her first (and in the next 60 years, her only) exhibition of photographs, displayed in the courtyard of her home at number 86 Rue Daguerre in Paris, directly on the laboratory walls and house shutters. An invitation card bore the words: ‘Buffet, Tuesday 1 June, 17.00 to 22.00’. Visitors to the exhibition were just a few neighbours from the 14th arrondissement of Paris, including Hans Hartung and Brassaï.

Agnès Varda preserved the originals of these photographs, and in 2014, together with the Galerie Nathalie Obadia, exhibited them at Paris Photo. These images were included in the exposition at MAMM. Black and white vintage prints from 1950 to 1954 shed light on the first steps of the photographer Agnès Varda, now regarded as a great filmmaker and, for the last 10 years, as a visual artist.

At the request of a terminally ill friend no longer able to visit her home, Varda went to the small fishing village of Pointe Courte to take pictures in 1954. She found the task so fascinating that it was decided to shoot a full-length feature film in the same location. Agnès Varda set up her own production company Société Ciné-Tamaris to make the film ‘La Pointe Courte’.

From 1960 she devoted her time to filmmaking. Agnès Varda made 33 films, alternating short and full-length, documentary and fiction films, the most iconic being ‘Cléo from 5 to 7’ (1961), ‘Happiness’ (1965), ‘Vagabond’ (1985), ‘Jacquot’ (1990), ‘The Gleaners and I’ (2000), ‘The Beaches of Agnès’ (2008) ‘Faces Places’ (2017), ‘Varda by Agnès’ (2019).

The next creative phase in Agnès Varda’s life began in 2003, this time in the role of visual artist. Her installations were presented at the Venice Biennale (2003), Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain in Paris (2006), CAFA Beijing and HUBEI Museum Wuhan in China (2012), Los Angeles County Museum of Art in Los Angeles (2013), Logan Centre for the Arts in Chicago (2015), Blum & Poe Gallery in New York (2017), Nathalie Obadia Gallery in Paris (2018) and Pazo da Cultura Pontevedra in Spain, also at the Liverpool Biennale (2018).

The MAMM exhibition will feature key works by Agnès Varda that characterise all the stages of her work, including documentaries and several of the maquettes made from 35mm film that brought her fame as an artist.

In March 2019 Agnès Varda sent us a brief text to announce her exhibition. Here it is, in full: ‘With such a diverse collection of my photographs you can guess that life confronts me with very different people and countries. I was glad to work with Jean Vilar the talented theatre director and his brilliant actor Gérard Philipe, who came from the film industry. As regards cinema, I send you several photos of legendary figures: Catherine Deneuve, Gérard Depardieu, the master Visconti, my beloved Jacques Demy, and others. I have worked in Cuba and China, but at this exhibition you can also see my vision of the peace and love generation in Los Angeles from the late 60s.

As an artist I create large shacks from 35mm reels of film: these are maquettes that give an idea of what can be built. I complete my exhibition with three self-portraits from age 20, 40 and 80 years old.’

Agnès Varda received the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival (1965); Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival (1985); Leopard of Honour at the Locarno Film Festival (2014); Honorary Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival (2015); People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival (2017); an Honorary Oscar (2017); and the Gold Star at the Marrakech Film Festival. The last prize awarded to Agnès Varda in her lifetime was the Golden Camera at the Berlin Film Festival (2019), for her documentary self-portrait ‘Varda by Agnès’.

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