Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Parisians during the Occupation

Tonight I attended the opening of a new exhibit, "Les Parisiens sous l'Occupation," color photographs by André Zucca, at the Bibliothèque historique de la Ville de Paris. A fascinating, stunning collection: an exhibit not to be missed.

Zucca (1897 - 1973) was the only Frenchman to take color photos of Paris during the Occupation. During that time, all photographing in Paris was strictly controlled by the Nazis. Zucca, who had worked for Paris Soir and L'Illustration, was "requisitioned" by the Germans in 1941 to be a staff photographer for the propaganda magazine Signal, a Life lookalike. And the photos in this exhibit are somewhat of a 'life' lookalike as well. It is a dreamlike Paris as the Nazis wanted it portrayed, with workers and vendors, smiling couples in cafés, and chic young women riding bikes. But read between the lines and the other reality of Paris in the Occupation is there.

Much of Zucca's black and white photography was published in Signal during the War, but this collection of 200 rare color photographs, recently restored, has never been published. Organized by quartier, the photos take you on a tour of another side of daily life in Paris from 1941-1944.

An excellent book published by Gallimard accompanies the exhibit.

Bibliothèque historique de la Ville de Paris
Salle d'exposition
22, rue Malher
75004 Paris

01 44 59 29 60
Metro: St. Paul

March 20 - July 1, 2008
Tuesday - Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m
4€ entrance fee/2€ reduced rate

9 comments:

Shelli said...

Thanks Polly, it's going on the list for May.

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

Thanks for sharing. I just read Suite Francaise and am enthralled by that period of time. I'm pleased to see that the exhibit is open through 1 July...perhaps I can get there.

julie70 said...

just discovered your blog! it will be so much to catch up and to read!

you write only in english or also in french?

materfamilias said...

Thanks very much for this. We'll be in Paris the last week of May, and I've been keeping an eye out for interesting exhibits. We saw another exhibition of historic photographs of Paris last spring in the same Bibliothèque, I think.

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Shelli,
Can't wait to see you in May. This is really worth it.

Cowgirl,
Hope you can make it to Paris. Suite Francaise is on my reading table but I haven't read it yet (about 7 other books there with it).

Julie,
My blog is just in English. I can write almost fluently in French, but don't have the mastery for expression in a style that anyone would want to read!

Materfamilias,
The Bibliotheques of the city of Paris are all my favorite spots. Glad you discovered this one, too. I hope you're looking forward to May, and so many good exhibits on the horizon.

Joyeuse Paques, everyone.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

I wish we could also see it. Perhaps, it will travel to the USA. Being interested in WWII, I have always been fascinated by the occupation and by the Nazis' propaganda campaign.~~Dee

Mimi said...

Zut! The exhibit will close a bit too soon for me.

Polly-Vous Francais said...

There will be toher exhibits, variations on the them, coming up later this year. Fashion during the occupation etc. Stay tuned!

Polly-Vous Francais said...

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this exhibit. All I can say is that it was very clear to me as I viewed the exhibit -- an American, no less -- that these were surprising but evocative images that the Nazi propaganda magazine had allowed to have photographed. No one was fooled by the photos of happy smiling faces.

But it was a reminder that life continued for many under the Occupation, in many forms.

I applaud the organizers and curators of the exhibit. Many were discussing the upcoming exhibit at the Musee Jean Moulin, a museum dedicated to the Resistance.

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