Exhibition: ‘Autophoto’ at Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris

Exhibition dates: 20th April – 24th September 2017

Artists: Robert Adams • Eve Arnold • Bernard Asset • Éric Aupol • Theo Baart Et Cary Markerink • Sue Barr • Valérie Belin • Martin Bogren • Nicolas Bouvier • David Bradford • Brassaï • Alain Bublex • Edward Burtynsky • Andrew Bush • Ronni Campana • Gilles Caron • Alejandro Cartagena • Kurt Caviezel • Philippe Chancel • Larry Clark • Langdon Clay • Stéphane Couturier • Bruce Davidson • Jean Depara • Raymond Depardon • John Divola • Robert Doisneau • William Eggleston • Elliott Erwitt • Walker Evans • Barry Feinstein • Pierre De Fenoÿl • Alain Fleischer • Robert Frank • Lee Friedlander • Bernhard Fuchs • Paolo Gasparini • Óscar Fernando Gómez • Jeff Guess • Andreas Gursky • Fernando Gutiérrez • Jacqueline Hassink • Anthony Hernandez • Yasuhiro Ishimoto • Peter Keetman • Seydou Keïta • Germaine Krull • Seiji Kurata • Justine Kurland • Jacques Henri Lartigue • O. Winston Link • Peter Lippmann • Marcos López • Alex Maclean • Ella Maillart • Man Ray • Mary Ellen Mark • Arwed Messmer • Ray K. Metzker • Sylvie Meunier Et Patrick Tourneboeuf • Joel Meyerowitz • Kay Michalak et Sven Völker • Óscar Monzón • Basile Mookherjee • Daido Moriyama • Patrick Nagatani • Arnold Odermatt • Catherine Opie • Trent Parke • Martin Parr • Mateo Pérez • Jean Pigozzi • Bernard Plossu • Matthew Porter • Edward Quinn • Bill Rauhauser • Rosângela Rennó • Luciano Rigolini • Miguel Rio Branco • Ed Ruscha • Sory Sanlé • Hans-christian Schink • Antoine Schnek • Stephen Shore • Malick Sidibé • Guido Sigriste • Raghubir Singh • Melle Smets Et Joost Van Onna • Jules Spinatsch • Dennis Stock • Hiroshi Sugimoto • Juergen Teller • Tendance Floue • Thierry Vernet • Weegee • Henry Wessel • Alain Willaume





Visite de l’exposition – Autophoto – 2017

Thirty years after the Hommage à Ferrari exhibition which put the spotlight on these legendary cars, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain presents, on a proposal by Xavier Barral and Philippe Séclier, the Autophoto exhibition devoted to the relationship between photography and the automobile. Since its creation, the automobile has shaped the landscape, allowed the discovery of new horizons and upset our conception of time and space.


Jacques Henri Lartigue. 'Une Delage au Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France, circuit de Dieppe' June 26, 1912


Jacques Henri Lartigue (French, 1894-1986)
Une Delage au Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France, circuit de Dieppe
June 26, 1912
Gelatin silver print
30 x 40cm
Donation Jacques Henri Lartigue, Charenton-le-Pont Photographie Jacques Henri Lartigue
© Ministère de la Culture – France/AAJHL
Exhibition Autophoto from April 20 to September 24, 2017
Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris


Juergen Teller. 'OJ Simpson no. 5' Miami 2000


Juergen Teller (German, b. 1964)
OJ Simpson no. 5
Miami 2000
Giclee print
51 x 61cm
Collection of the artist
© Juergen Teller, 2017



I missed this exhibition when I was in Paris recently. A great pity, I would have liked to have seen it. Some rare photographs that I have never laid eyes on before. I especially love Ray K. Metzker’s Washington, DC. The photography in both Paris and London was disappointing during my month overseas. Other than a large exhibition of Gregory Crewdson’s photographs at the Photographers’ Gallery London, there was not much of interest on offer.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

PS. So many more horizontal photographs than vertical, the automobile obviously lending itself to this orientation. I love this observation: “Photography, a tool of immobility, benefited from the automobile, a mobility tool.” And this from Jean Baudrillard: “Riding is a form spectacular amnesia. Everything to discover, everything to be erased.”

Many thankx to Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.



“Photographing is a profession. Craftsmanship. A job that one learns, that one makes more or less well, like all trades. The photographer is a witness. The witness of his time. The true photographer is the witness of every day, they are the reporter. ”

Germaine Krull


“I think that cars today are almost the exact equivalent of the great Gothic cathedrals; I mean the supreme creation of an era, conceived with passion by unknown artists, and consumed in image if not in usage by a whole population which appropriates them as a purely magical object.”

Roland Barthes, Mythologies, Le Seuil, Paris, 1970, p. 150



Thirty years after the exhibition Hommage à Ferrari, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain will once again focus its attention on the world of cars with the exhibition Autophoto, dedicated to photography’s relationship to the automobile. Since its invention, the automobile has reshaped our landscape, extended our geographic horizons, and radically altered our conception of space and time. The car has also influenced the approach and practice of photographers, providing them not only with a new subject but also a new way of exploring the world and a new means of expression. Based on an idea by Xavier Barral and Philippe Séclier, Autophoto will present over 500 works from the beginning of the 20th century to the present. It will invite us to discover the many facets of automotive culture – aesthetic, social, environmental, and industrial – through the eyes of photographers from around the world. The exhibition will bring together over 90 photographers including both famous and lesser-known figures such as Jacques Henri Lartigue, William Eggleston, Justine Kurland and Jacqueline Hassink, who have shown a fascination for the automobile as a subject or have used it as a tool to take their pictures.


Relevé photographique des voies de circulation mondiales réalisé par Michelin c. 1930


Relevé photographique des voies de circulation mondiales réalisé par Michelin
c. 1930
Collection Michelin, Clermont-Ferrand
© Michelin


Studio portraits, 'China' c. 1950, collected by Thomas Sauvin


Studio portraits
c. 1950
Collected by Thomas Sauvin
Colourised gelatin silver print
7.5 x 11.5cm
Collection Beijing Silvermine/Thomas Sauvin, Paris Photo all rights reserved


Seydou Keïta. 'Untitled' 1952–55


Seydou Keïta (Malian, 1921-2001)
Gelatin silver print
50 × 60cm
CAAC – The Pigozzi Collection, Geneva
© SKPEAC (The Seydou Keïta Photography Estate Advisor Corporation)


Nicolas Bouvier. 'Entre Prilep et Istanbul, Turquie' 1953


Nicolas Bouvier (Swiss, 1929-1998)
Entre Prilep et Istanbul, Turquie
Musée de l’Élysée, Lausanne
© Fonds Nicolas Bouvier / Musée de l’Élysée, Lausanne


O. Winston Link. 'Hot Shot Eastbound' 1956


O. Winston Link (American, 1914-2001)
Hot Shot Eastbound
Collection Mathé Perrin, Bruxelles
© O. Winston Link


Ray K. Metzker. 'Washington, DC' 1964


Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014)
Washington, DC
Gelatin silver print
20 × 25.5cm
Courtesy Les Douches la Galerie, Paris/Laurence Miller Gallery, New York
© Estate Ray K. Metzker, courtesy Les Douches la Galerie, Paris/Laurence Miller Gallery, New York


Bernard Plossu. 'Sur la route d'Acapulco, Mexique' 1966


Bernard Plossu (French, b. 1945)
Sur la route d’Acapulco, Mexique
From Le Voyage mexicain series
Gelatin silver print
18 × 27cm
Courtesy of the artist/Galerie Camera Obscura, Paris
© Bernard Plossu


Bernard Plossu. 'Chiapas, Mexique' 1966


Bernard Plossu (French, b. 1945)
Chiapas, Mexique
From Le Voyage mexicain series
Gelatin silver print
18 × 27cm
Courtesy of the artist/Galerie Camera Obscura, Paris
© Bernard Plossu



“A panorama framed by the rectangle of the windshield. A long ribbon of asphalt, a line of flight that stretches towards the horizon. For more than a century, we can capture this image and travel the world by car, this photographic “box”. Automotive and photography, two tools to model the landscape, two mechanics of the traction and attraction, have emerged at the end of the nineteenth century, through new rhythms and new rites, the society of modern times. If the photograph allows multiple views and list them, to memorise the movement and leave a trace, the automobile makes it possible to move in space. Photography, a tool of immobility, benefited from the automobile, a mobility tool. And if the automobile like photography is constantly evolving, these two inventions have parallel paths in order to better, to master space-time. “Riding is a form spectacular amnesia. Everything to discover, everything to be erased,”1 writes Jean Baudrillard.”

From the foreword by commissioners of the exhibition Xavier Barral and Philippe Séclier

  1. Jean Baudrillard, Amérique, Grasset, Paris, 1986, p. 15


Henry Wessel. 'Pennsylvania' 1968


Henry Wessel (American, 1942-2018)
Courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne
© Henry Wessel, courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne.


William Eggleston. 'Los Alamos' series 1965-1968


William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Los Alamos series
Dye-transfer print
40.5 × 50.5cm
Eggleston Artistic Trust, courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London
© Eggleston Artistic Trust. Courtesy David Zwirner, New York/London


William Eggleston. 'Los Alamos' series c. 1974


Henry Wessel (American, 1942-2018)
Los Alamos series
c. 1974
Inkjet print
56 × 73.5cm
Eggleston Artistic Trust, Memphis
© Eggleston Artistic Trust, Memphis


Bill Rauhauser. 'Detroit Auto Show' series c. 1975


Bill Rauhauser (American, b. 1918)
Detroit Auto Show series
c. 1975
Detroit Institute of Arts, don de l’artiste en mémoire de Doris Rauhauser
© 2007 Rauhauser Photographic Trust. All Rights Reserved


Langdon Clay. 'Zizka Cleaners car, Buick Electra' 1976


Langdon Clay (American, b. 1949)
Zizka Cleaners car, Buick Electra
Series Cars, New York City, 1976
Courtesy of the artist
© Langdon Clay


Joel Meyerowitz. 'Upstate New York' 1977


Joel Meyerowitz (American, b. 1938)
Upstate New York
Collection Joel Meyerowitz Photography, New York
© Joel Meyerowitz, courtesy Polka Galerie, Paris


Bernard Asset. 'Passager d'Alain Prost (Alain Prost au volant d’une Renault RE30B, tests F1 sur le circuit Dijon-Prenois)' 1982


Bernard Asset (French, b. 1955)
Passager d’Alain Prost (Alain Prost au volant d’une Renault RE30B, tests F1 sur le circuit Dijon-Prenois)
Collection de l’artiste
© Bernard Asset


David Bradford. 'Coaster Ride Stealth' 1994


David Bradford (American, b. 1951)
Coaster Ride Stealth
From Drive-By Shootings series
28 × 35.5cm
Courtesy of the artist
© David Bradford


Andrew Bush. 'Woman Waiting to Proceed South at Sunset and Highland Boulevards, Los Angeles, at Approximately 11:59 a.m. One Day in February 1997' 1997


Andrew Bush (American, b. 1956)
Woman Waiting to Proceed South at Sunset and Highland Boulevards, Los Angeles, at Approximately 11:59 a.m. One Day in February 1997
From Vector Portraits series
122 × 151cm
Courtesy M+B Gallery, Los Angeles
© Andrew Bush


Rosângela Rennó. 'Cerimônia do Adeus' series,1997-2003


Rosângela Rennó (Brazilian, b. 1962)
Cerimônia do Adeus series
C-print face-mounted on Plexiglas
50 × 68 cm
Courtesy of the artist/Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, Lisbon
© Rosângela Rennó


Valérie Belin. 'Untitled' 2002


Valérie Belin (French, b. 1964)
Gelatin silver print
61 x 71.5cm (framed)
Courtesy of the artist/Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels
© Valérie Belin/ADAGP, Paris 2017


Stéphane Couturier. 'MELT, Toyota No 8' 2005


Stéphane Couturier (French, b. 1957)
MELT, Toyota No. 8
From Melting Point, Usine Toyota, Valenciennes series
92 × 137cm
Collection of the artist
Courtesy La Galerie Particulière, Paris/Brussels
© Stéphane Couturier


Óscar Fernando Gómez. 'Windows' series, 2009

Óscar Fernando Gómez. 'Windows' series, 2009

Óscar Fernando Gómez. 'Windows' series, 2009

Óscar Fernando Gómez. 'Windows' series, 2009

Óscar Fernando Gómez. 'Windows' series, 2009


Óscar Fernando Gómez (Mexican, b. 1970)
Windows series
Slide show
Courtesy Martin Parr Studio, Bristol
© Óscar Fernando Gómez


Alain Willaume. '#5069' 2012


Alain Willaume (French, b. 1956)
From the Échos de la poussière et de la fracturation series
Collection de l’artiste
© Alain Willaume (Tendance Floue)


Peter Lippmann. 'Citroën Traction 7' 2012


Peter Lippmann (American works Paris, b. 1956)
Citroën Traction 7
From the Paradise Parking series
75 × 100cm
Collection of the artist
© Peter Lippmann


Justine Kurland. '280 Coup' 2012


Justine Kurland (American, b. 1969)
280 Coup
Inkjet Print
47 x 61cm
Courtesy of the artist/Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York
© Justine Kurland


Melle Smets and Joost Van Onna. 'Turtle 1. Building a Car in Africa' 2016


Melle Smets and Joost Van Onna
Turtle 1. Building a Car in Africa
Courtesy des artistes / Paradox, Edam
© Melle Smets et Joost Van Onna


Luciano Rigolini. 'Tribute to Giorgio de Chirico' 2017


Luciano Rigolini (Swiss, b. 1950)
Tribute to Giorgio de Chirico
Duratrans in lightbox
124 x 154cm
Collection of the artist
© Luciano Rigolini (appropriation – unknown photographer, 1958)



First Visions: A New Subject for Photography

In the early 20th century, the automobile and its impact on the landscape had already become a subject of predilection for many photographers, influencing both the form and content of their work. The exhibition will begin by focusing on early photographers like Jacques Henri Lartigue, Germaine Krull, and Brassaï, who used the automobile to varying degrees in their work. They registered the thrill of speed, the chaos of Parisian traffic or the city’s dramatic car-illuminated nocturnal landscape to represent a society in transition at the birth of the modern age. Other photographers of the time were attracted by the promise of freedom and mobility offered by the automobile. Anticipating the modern road trip, Swiss writers and photographers Ella Maillart and Nicolas Bouvier, travelled throughout Asia in the 1930s and 1950s respectively, using their cars and cameras to record their adventures along the way.


Auto Portraits

The exhibition will also present a series of “auto portraits”* made by a variety of photographers from the mi-twentieth century to the present. Yashuhiro Ishimoto and Langdon Clay’s photographs, for example, are portraits in profile of cars parked on sparsely inhabited city streets, that immerse the viewer in a different eras and atmospheres. Ishimoto’s black and white photographs, taken in Chicago in the 1950s, emphasise their polished, curved silhouettes in a distanced and serial manner, while Langdon Clay’s colour pictures taken in New York in the 1970s, show their decaying and dented chassis in an eerie nocturnal light. Other works in this section, such as the found photographs of Sylvie Meunier and Patrick Tourneboeuf’s American Dream series, or the flamboyant portraits of African photographers Seydou Keïta and Sory Sanlé, focus on the role of the automobile as a emblem of social mobility showing proud owners posing with their cars.

*A play on words in French: auto portrait meaning self-portrait.


The Car as a Medium: New Perspectives on the Landscape

Many photographers have exploited the technical and aesthetic possibilities offered by the automobile, using it like a camera to capture the surrounding landscape through car windows or the reflections in rear-view mirrors.

Cars have determined the framing and composition as well as the serial nature of the photographs of Joel Meyerowitz, Daido Moriyama, John Divola and David Bradford who have all worked from moving cars. From behind their windshields, these photographers capture an amusing store sign, a white car behind a wire fence, a dog running along a dusty road, a highway stretching out into the horizon. Other photographers, including Sue Barr, Robert Adams, Ed Ruscha, and Alex MacLean scrutinise our car-altered environment. Their landscape is no longer one of magnificent mountains, wondrous waterfalls or awe-inspiring canyons, but of a world transformed by the automobile with its suburban housing complexes, parking lots, and highway infrastructure.


Our Car Culture: Industry, History and New Ways of Life

Many photographers have explored other aspects of our car culture, from the car industry and its impact on the environment to its role in history and society. Both Robert Doisneau and Robert Frank registered life in the factory, from the machines and productions lines to the activities of the workers lives, the first at the Renault plant in the 1930s and the second at Ford River Rouge in the 1950s. Their photographs, unique in their attention to individual assembly line workers, contrast with the work of contemporary photographer Stéphane Couturier whose deliberately distanced, impersonal pictures taken at a Toyota factory reflect the increasingly dehumanised nature of contemporary industry. Working in Ghana, far from the automated factory photographed by Stéphane Couturier, Dutch artist Melle Smets, and sociologist Joost Van Onna, put industrial waste from the car industry to good use. Collaborating with local craftsman in a region called Suame Magazine, where cars are disassembled and their parts traded, they created a car specifically for the African market called Turtle 1, using parts from different brands that happened to be available. Their installation, which includes photographs, drawings, and videos, documents the entire fabrication process of this car.

Photographers such as Philippe Chancel, Éric Aupol and Edward Burtynsky are concerned with the car industry’s damage to the environment. Philippe Chancel’s work focuses on the city of Flint and its dismantled General Motors factory, while Éric Aupol’s and Ed Burtynsky’s photographs reveal the sculptural yet apocalyptic beauty of industrial waste sites.

Other photographers reveal how the car plays an important role in historical events, in society and in daily life. Arwed Messmer’s Reenactement series brings together photographs from the archives of the Stasi showing how people used cars in unusual ways to escape from East Germany, and Fernando Gutiérrez work, Secuelas, explores the role of the Ford Falcon, a symbol of Argentina’s military dictatorship, in the collective imaginary of the Argentinean people. Jacqueline Hassink’s immersive projection Car Girls investigates the role and status of women who work in car shows around the world. Martin Parr’s series From A to B chronicles the thoughts dreams and anxieties of British motorists. Still other series by photographers such as Rosângela Rennó, Óscar Monzón, Kurt Caviezel and Bruce Davidson show how the car has become an extension of the home, used for weddings and picnics, living and sleeping, arguments and making love.

The Fondation Cartier has also invited artist Alain Bublex to create for the exhibition a series of 10 model cars that cast a fresh eye on the history of automobile design. His installation combines photographs, drawings and models to explore how the car design has evolved over time incorporating new techniques, forms, and practices.

Despite energy crises, ecology movements, and industrial mismanagement, the car remains essential to our daily lives. At a time when we are questioning the role and the future of the automobile in our society, the Autophoto exhibition reexamines, with nostalgia, humour, and a critical eye, this 20th century symbol of freedom and independence.


The Catalogue

Bringing together over 600 images, the catalogue of the Autophoto exhibition reveals how photography, a tool privileging immobility, benefited from the automobile, a tool privileging mobility. The catalogue features iconic images by both historic and contemporary photographers who have captured the automobile, and transformed this popular accessible object through their passionate and creative vision. Quotes by the artists, and a chronology of automobile design, as well as interviews and texts by specialists provide a deeper understanding of this vast topic through a variety of aesthetic, sociological, and historical perspectives.

Press release from The Fondation Cartier


Peter Keetman. 'Hintere Kotflügel' 1953


Peter Keetman (German, 1916-2005)
Hintere Kotflügel (Rear fenders)
From Eine Woche im Volkswagenwerk (A week at the Volkswagenwerk) series
Gelatin silver print
27 × 24.5cm
Nachlass Peter Keetman/Stiftung F.C. Gundlach, Hamburg
© Nachlass Peter Keetman/Stiftung F.C. Gundlach, Hamburg


Ed Ruscha. '7133 Kester, Van Nuys' 1967


Ed Ruscha (American, b. 1937)
7133 Kester, Van Nuys
Thirtyfour Parking Lots series
Chipmunk Collection
© Ed Ruscha, courtesy Gagosian Gallery


Malick Sidibé. 'Taximan avec voiture' 1970


Malick Sidibé (Malian, 1935-2016)
Taximan avec voiture
Gelatin silver print
40 x 30cm
Courtesy Galerie Magnin-A, Paris
© Malick Sidibé


Lee Friedlander. 'Montana' 2008


Lee Friedlander (American, b. 1934)
From the America by Car series
Gelatin silver print
37.5 × 37.5cm
Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
© Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco


Lee Friedlander. 'California' 2008


Lee Friedlander (American, b. 1934)
From the America by Car series
Gelatin silver print
37.5 × 37.5cm
Courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
© Lee Friedlander, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco


Alejandro Cartagena. 'The Carpoolers' series 2011–12


Alejandro Cartagena (Mexican, b. 1977)
The Carpoolers series
Installation of 15 inkjet prints
55.5 × 35.5cm (each)
Courtesy Patricia Conde Galería, Mexico City
© Alejandro Cartagena


Ronni Campana. 'Badly Repaired Cars' series 2016


Ronni Campana (Italian, b. 1987)
Badly Repaired Cars series
Inkjet print
60 × 40cm
Collection of the artist
© Ronni Campana



Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain
261 Boulevard Raspail, Paris

Opening hours: Every day except Mondays, 11am – 8pm
Opening Tuesday evenings until 10pm

Fondation Cartier website


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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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