LOS ANGELES, CA.-
Seldom does a generational giant come along and share with us his vision of the world, garnered by an insatiable curiosity about people and life. In celebration of his 90th birthday, Henri Daumans newest solo exhibition A Cinematic Eye at KP PROJECTS
, does just that. Spanning four decades as a photojournalist and photographer, Daumans images capture powerful cultural and social moments that serve as elegant testimony to modern America. His photographs speak to us about us.
According to TIME magazine, Henri Dauman created photos that play like a slideshow of some of the biggest moments in American history and popular culture. From Brigitte Bardot to the ERA movement of the 60s, Dauman's iconic imagery defined the 20th century. His oeuvre offers context to an evolving America, depicting key moments when new arts emerged, and an increasingly disparate society asserted itself, when the worlds of politics and media first started to converge. While on assignment, Dauman captured poignant images of celebrities, musicians, politicians, pop culture icons and a myriad of pivotal moments. His wide range of subjects included film siren Marilyn Monroe, Pop icon Andy Warhol, writers Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams, musicians Elvis Presley, Miles Davis and Philip Glass and legendary film makers Federico Fellini and Godard. He also travelled internationally to bring perspective to the Castro revolution in Cuba, and Buddhists factions in Vietnam. Daumans images graced the pages of LIFE magazine, The New York Times, Newsweek and other international publications for over four decades.
Born in 1933 in Montmartre, Daumans early childhood was plagued by tragedy during World War II with his father perishing in Auschwitz and his mother meeting a premature end shortly thereafter. In the face of extreme adversity, Dauman found solace and purpose behind the lens of a camera. Following a photographic apprenticeship at Courbevoie, and experience in entertainment photography at Radio Luxembourg and the Bernand Agency in Paris, Dauman immigrated to New York at the age of 17.
Without formal journalism education, Dauman started working for France-Amérique, and expanded his horizons to European publications Paris-Match, Jours de France, Epoca, and Der Stern. The European publications that were printing Daumans work did not go unnoticed by bigger American publications, and in 1959, at the age of 26, he received the first of many assignments commissioned by Life Magazine. Fascination and escapism through film taught Henri how to tell a story. The interplay of light and shadows on the big screen inspired him to pick up a camera and to continue to pursue storytelling through his lens.
No matter whom he shot, an innately alluring aspect exists within Daumans work. His sensitivity to his subjects allowed him to capture unguarded moments with precision and beauty. Artistically he admits a debt to the visual language of cinema, and it is through closely observing cinematic techniques - sequences, short cuts, close-ups, contrasting backlight that he created a powerful technical arsenal where image, caption, and text could become one. He believed that the layout of magazines often echoed the sequential efficiency of American films.
Daumans poignant vision of the world around him was the driving force in his ability to tell the stories of socio-political unease, shifting cultural values, and glimpses into the day-to-day life of 20th Century America. His vision is that of a man whose life experience, and subsequent triumph, put him in a privileged position to tell the story of a multi-faceted modern America. Henris images cry out, they laugh, they exclaim, they weep, they sweat... and, always, they evoke an emotional reaction. His photographs tell the story of contemporary history, etching them into our memories.
To celebrate Henris milestone birthday, the gallery will be publishing a special micro portfolio of 15 select images available as a set or individual.
There is this light around Henri that is really incredible, and it affects everyone he meets. A lot of that is from taking nothing for granted and appreciating all the people and places around him.
- Merry Karnowsky Owner & Curator - KP Projects
As a testament to his legacy, the feature documentary film Henri Dauman: Looking Up was released by Samuel Goldwyn in 2018 and can be seen on Amazon Prime, Apple TV. This chronicle threads two fascinating journeys of the picture artist: an intimate look at Dauman's creative path and an emotional trip back to find the French countryside where he survived as a child.
The photographs will speak for me, about what our century was like, and show that I existed