Photography as a weapon of class” are the words with which the journalist Henri Tracol (1909–1997) begins his manifesto on unifying the photography section of the association of revolutionary writers and artists (AEAR). The association was founded in Paris in 1932, against a background of growing political, economic and social upheaval, and brought together, alongside other sectors of the artistic and cultural domain (theatre, music, cinema, literature, painting, etc.) some of the most committed photographers of the Paris avant-garde: Jacques-André Boiffard, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Chim, André Kertész, Germaine Krull, Eli Lotar, Willy Ronis, René Zuber, and many more besides. Alongside the laypeople and workers whom they followed for their work, these photographers experimented with a language that was at the intersection of critical discourse, the militant gesture and the documentary aesthetic. They drew on Soviet and German examples while managing to carve their own path through the French social and political context.

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