Photos and films by Yann Arthus-Bertrand at the Arche de la Défense. A 50-year retrospective.
“Legacy. The legacy we leave to our children” is the title of the exhibition dedicated to Yann Arthus-Bertrand in the grandiose site of the Roof of of the Great Ark. 50 years of a life as a committed photographer-director. The first retrospective of his work.
Lions, portraits, inhabited landscapes, the Earth seen from the sky … 250 large format photos are presented in the 1200 m2 of this vast space between sky and earth.
Young Yann, who is in school failure and breaking up with his family, is interested first in cinema. Tray sweeper, assistant director, actor … a little thug.
At the age of 20, he became director of an animal park, took his license as an airplane pilot, raised himself cradles in a bottle, dream of Africa … to see lions in freedom.
First environmental awareness.
At 33, he goes to Kenya, builds his own house in Masai-Mara and, with his partner, writes a thesis on lion behavior, illustrated with photos.
So his love for photography is born.
A safari-photo guide, a hot air balloon pilot, it takes altitude … to photograph lions from the sky.
Lions, “my photography teachers,” he confides.
And this is the publication of “Lions,” his first book.
He’s 37, that’s the golden age of the press, he’s collaborating with Geo, Paris Match, Figaro Magazine, National Geographic, Photo, Him.
In 1981, he managed to obtain permission from François Mitterrand to fly over the capital and realized “Paris vu du Ciel”.
He follows the Paris-Dakar rally and the Roland-Garros tournaments while collecting his photos in books.
At the Agriculture Fair, he set up a studio. He’s interested in the relationship between man and animal. Seem “Beasts,” “Horses,” “Dogs.”
In 1989, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of photography, with Jean-François Leroy, the future director of Visa pour l’Image, he directed the book “3 days in France”, a collection of images of 118 great photographers.
In 1991, he created “Altitude”, the world’s first aerial photo agency, and a year later, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, he decided to launch a huge project: “to achieve a state of the planet and its inhabitants at the dawn of the year 2000″.
It’s “Earth seen from heaven.”
70 countries overlooked, always a human detail in the landscape, giving meaning and scale to the image.
All museums refuse his photos. However, he manages to put them on the Senate charts.
Huge success! The exhibition reaches 200 million people worldwide! A book is published in the Editions de La Martinière.
For the 40th anniversary of the Express, he photographed the French … of all ages, all trades, all situations … a butcher, a homeless man, a road man, a yellow gilt … French as they are.
Increasingly committed, our “ecolographer-photologist” is turning resolutely to cinema, which, unlike photography, reproduces speech.
Inspired by Al Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” on the devastating effects of global warming, he animated “Vu du ciel”, a documentary series about France 2, and directed “Home”, produced by Luc Besson, which was shown free of charge in 2009 on television, the Internet, the cinema and the Champ-de-Mars in front of 50,000 spectators. In the end, the film will be viewed by 600 million people in more than 100 countries.
The result will be “The thirst for the world”, “Ocean Planet”, “Terra”, “Human”.
Human! For two years, 2,020 people interviewed by his team in 60 countries, six hours of recording, faces filmed in tight planes. Each one reveals his story, his thoughts, each in his own language. Authentic, respectful, moving testimonies between laughter and tears, and “Woman” in 2019. All films screened afterwards in the cinema following the exhibition.
Yann Arthus-Bertrand is the creator of the Good Planet Foundation, open to the public in 2017 in the Bois de Boulogne, a cultural and educational site that takes a fun approach to the ecology and the preservation of the Planet. There are thematic exhibitions, film screenings, conferences, concerts … and even a vegetable garden and a nature trail.
LEGACY Exhibition, Grande Arche de la Défense, 92-Puteaux, until 1 December 2019.
All photos of the exhibition will be auctioned for the Good Planet Foundation.