Monday, September 28, 2009
PHOTOGRAPHER I LOVE: Vincent Thibert
A French Photographer’s Dream World:
The Normandy of writer Jules Amedee Barbey d’Aurevilly
Paris-based Vincent Thibert is a superbly talented and original photographer who creates dreamy, memorable photographs of interiors, people and places.
I’ve known Vincent since we worked together on my best-selling Taschen book, ‘Seaside Interiors’, published about eight years ago.
Vincent photographed a poetic house on the island of Goree, off the coast of Senegal for the book. His beautiful images and his artul compositions added to the international success of the book.
Now I’m bringing you a dramatic new photographic essay by Vincent, one of his very best.
It’s an evocation of the wild and rocky country around Cotentin in Normandy, land of the 19th-century French author, Jules-Amedee Barbey d’Aurevilly. The photographs are Vincent’s movie, in effect, a dreamscape of Barbey’s life, his characters, his surreal fiction, and his still-in-print novels.
Barbey d’Aurevilly was born in Normandy. From 1852 he became an influential literary critic at the Bonapartist paper Le Pays, effectively promoting Stendhal and Flaubert.
Barbey was a dreamer with an exquisite sense of refinement. Barbey d’Aurevilly was also known as the creator of his own image, adopting a gilded aristocratic aura and hinting at a mysterious noble past, though his parentage was provincial bourgeois nobility.
Barbey d’Aurevilly’s best-known collection is The She-Devils, which includes the cult classic Happiness in Crime and is still in print from Dedalus Books. Most recently his Une vieille maîtresse (An Elderly Mistress, 1851) was adapted to cinema by French director Catherine Breillat: its English title is The Last Mistress.
While a resident of Paris, he spent his autumns in Normandy, where Vincent Thibert’s evocative photographs were shot. It’s a moody green land with ancient castles, rugged coastlines, ghosts, and lots of rain.
‘Rain is the cosmetic of my peninsula,” said the dandy-ish Barbey.
He remained throughout his life proudly Norman in spirit and style. Jules-Amédée Barbey d’Aurevilly died in Paris and was buried in the Montparnasse cemetery. In 1926 his remains were transferred to the churchyard in Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte.
Photographs above: It is on the wild windswept peninsula of Cotentin that Thibert created his homage to Barbey. Among his Normandy locations were the fortress Chateau d’Olondes, the Chateau des Ravalet- Tourlaville near Cherbourg, and the Chateau d l’Isle-Marie. He also photographed the landscapes of Le Cap de Cartaret, and the 18th-century Hotel de Beaumont in Valognes on the Cotentin peninsula.
Vincent Thibert was born in Paris on July 9, 1959. He studied painting and drawing at l’Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs. For the last 24 years he has been shooting editorial photography, mostly for interiors and design publications including Architectural Digest and Elle Décor.
All photographs by French photographer, Vincent Thibert, firstname.lastname@example.org. They were first published in Cote Ouest in November 2008.