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19 July 2015

Together, photography, Rencontres d’Arles 2015

The collections of the Maison européenne de la photographie


The Maison européenne de la Photographie in Paris now has around 21,000 works in its collections. Founded over 35 years ago, the MEP has followed the tastes and trends of its times, revealing a survey of photography from the second half of the 20th century. This show emphasises key aspects of the MEP’s acquisition policy: gifts, commissions, and the creation of large collections of photographers’ work.

The collection is based on several major series, first published in monographs, by some of the world’s leading postwar photographers. Richard Avedon, Larry Clark, Raymond Depardon, Robert Frank, Ralph Gibson, William Klein, Josef Koudelka, Irving Penn, Bernard Plossu, and Johan van der Keuken, to name just a few, paved the way for generations of photographers. The show also features some major commissions about the capital by the association Paris Audiovisuel and the MEP, from Henri Cartier‐Bresson’s Paris à vue d’œil in 1984 to Martin Parr’s Grand Paris in 2014.

Gifts account for nearly a third of the collection. Photographers, including Harry Callahan, Jim Dine, and Helmut Newton, donated large groups of their own work. Major benefactors—the Association des Amis de la MEP; the Dai Nippon Printing Co., which put together a major collection of works by Japan’s greatest postwar photographers; Neuflize vie, which helped the MEP purchase works by young artists; and David Adamson, who pioneered digital printing and donated an out‐ standing group of works by the world’s greatest contemporary artists—have made essential contributions to expanding the collection.