No 1 on the theme of themes, more to follow

The Elysée’s Beauty of Lines – Masterpieces from the Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla collection

Adapted from the article in French published on Bon pour la Tête on 24 February 2018: LINK

To fight digital distraction, themes are a great game play. Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne uses The Beauty of Lines to capture our attention long enough to discover the foremost New York-based photography collection of Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla. They’re not exactly peacocks of the art circuit on this side of the Atlantic – and most of us have never heard of them – so just think what we might have missed had we not been drawn in by the engaging theme.

The beauty of themes

It’s a great strategy: how can one resist beauty? And what is photography as art other than the beauty of lines? To capture our gaze even further, we are invited into the three chapters of the exhibition: straight lines (that ease the eye), curved lines (the essence of the body), abstractions (the camera as a paintbrush). It might seem contrived, but it works.

A story-line

Otherwise, where would one begin? The Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla was started more than forty years ago and comprises 1500 original prints by the greatest photographers of the 20th and 21st century. The choice of a story-line operates as a guide as we glide through the handsome spaces of the Elysée asking ourselves what will photography become in the digital age.

Providing the question and the answer at the same time

Digital native Tatyana Frank, the museum’s director, is faced with the question every day: How do we look at the mirror of humanity and of our times in an ocean of live images and selfies?

Her strategy is to put the question to us and give the answer at the same time:

By choosing to present a collection traversed by a love for beauty, she is giving photography a special place. When Sondra Gilman bought three pictures by Eugene Atget while still a student, she did not yet know that a passion was born. The exhibition that fills the museum dispenses us with having to worry about photography:

As long as the finger on the camera button and the eye behind the lens know when to take that shot and capture those lines of beauty, we’ll be OK.

Themes… a great way to get us to see.


The Beauty of Lines. Masterpieces from the Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla collection
Curators: Tatyana Frank and Pauline Martin
January 31, 2018 – May 6, 2018
Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne

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The Musée de l’Elysée is recognised far beyond Switzerland’s borders. More than 50,000 people visit the four exhibitions presented at the museum each year. Through its travelling exhibitions, it extends it presence to many cities across the globe, including Paris, New York, Beijing and Cape Town.

The Museum is scheduled to move to PLATEFORME 10, a new arts district next to the Lausanne train station, when it is completed in a couple of years.

Michèle Laird, née Haffner, was an international arts administrator (visual arts and theatre), successively in Paris, New York and London, before moving to Switzerland and becoming an arts journalist.

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