The Roger-Viollet photographic agency takes care of its exhibition

By Marie Godfrain

Posted today at 5:00 p.m.

The facade of the Roger-Viollet gallery on rue de Seine, in Paris, October 6, 2021.

Like Cléopâtre glue, Soupline washing powder, the Gallimard publishing house or Petit Beurre biscuits, the Roger-Viollet photographic agency is a part of French collective memory… A transgenerational reference on which we come across at random on a page tour in a history book or by reading the caption of a photo in an exhibit.

Founded in 1938 by Hélène Roger-Viollet, the photographic press agency moved to 6 rue de Seine, in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, in the shop of Laurent Ollivier, a merchant who sold to students of the School of Fine Arts for reproductions of works and photos of landscapes.

The Taste of M

Hélène Roger-Viollet buys the collection with her husband, Jean Fischer, and enriches it over the decades with pictures that the duo takes or buys from photographers, until they constitute a set of 6 million photos. As the couple had no children, the City of Paris inherited the whole in 1994. Four years ago, the gallery’s collection was marketed and put on the market through a service concession. public.

“When I took over the place in January 2020, I understood that we had to be open to the public as a priority. »Gilles Taquet, president of the agency

Among the professionals in the ranks, Gilles Taquet, already owner of several photography agencies, wins the contract: “A real national treasure, but it was in its own right. ” Enjoying a prestigious address, in the shadow of the Institut de France, a stone’s throw from the Pont des Arts, the Seine and in the heart of the galleries district, the location is ideal, but the archives are piled up there. in dusty fir green storage boxes.

While the agency is open to the public for the acquisition of prints, rare are those who dare to push the door … “When I took over the place in January 2020, I understood that we had to open up to the public as a priority”, explains Gilles Taquet. He then had the idea of ​​punctuating the gallery in three spaces, following the architecture of the place, organized in three spans perpendicular to the street.

The exhibition space, with its stools created by Wendy Andreu.  Currently and until January 8, “L'Orient en grand”.

It calls on the young architect David Apheceix, author of a minimalist, sensitive and restrained work, which plays on light, volumes and the effects of materials. He imagines in the left bay a space of thematic temporary exhibitions to enhance the collection (until January 8, “L’Orient en grand” offers photos of Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and France. Algeria 1900s).

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