Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King waves to supporters on August 28, 1963 on the Mall in Washington DC during the "March on Washington" (AFP)

MAXIM - For the first time in its history, Agence France-Presse (AFP) is exhibiting a selection of its film years (1944-1998), which will be auctioned at We are on October 3.

“Some have been in the news of the last century and have sometimes become cult. Others are real photographic surprises and testify to the real views of authors. All mark a moment in history "explains Marielle Eudes, Director of Photography at AFP. These photos, which will be auctioned on October 3 at We are, are all taken from the agency’s silver background, which contains more than six million photos, including 350,000 on glass plates. It is easy to imagine the titanic work that must be required in the management and operation of this gold mine, between historical snapshots and snapshots of a bygone era. 

“Not all photographs are meant to be digitized, if only for cost considerations. And yet, this background constitutes a breeding ground of great wealth: some photographs are unknown to the general public, others also to us. So many reasons that made us decide to shed light on this part of the agency’s history ”. How do you recognize an iconic photo? For Samantha McCoy, Director of the Magnum Gallery, it is due to the ability of photography "to instinctively take hold of our emotions. Like a perfume transporting us on the spot to a precise place or moment, a photograph can take us within ourselves or outside of us: making us travel in time, in space, towards an elsewhere, a memory or a vivid feeling ”.

Louis Armstrong performs in his dressing room for a little boy before a performance in a New York jazz cabaret in 1947 @ AFPR / Eric Schwab.

To carry out this large-scale project, Marielle Eudes chooses to delineate its outlines: the selection will relate to the silver films made between 1944, the founding date of the Agency under the name AFP, and 1998, date on which all the photographers are equipped with digital boxes. It is Christophe Callais, journalist and former editor-in-chief of Magnum Photos, who sifts through the photos, year after year, to extract a first selection, then refined under the supervision of Marielle Eudes and Stéphane Arnaud, head of photo center and deputy editor of AFP. Of the 800 photos discovered by the team, 187 are retained. Among them are emblematic moments in the news with the Liberation of Paris, May 68 or Nelson Mandela with a raised fist after his release in 1990, celebrities such as this surrealist portrait of Dali at the Vincennes zoo, or scenes from daily life on the banks of the Seine.

Salvador Dali paints a rhinoceros with the famous painting by Vermeer "La Dentellière", at the Zoo of Vincennes, April 30, 1955. (AFP)

Some images have been around the world, such as that of the death of Ernesto Che Guevara taken by Marc Hutten, AFP text reporter and photography enthusiast. Known for his photographs on the liberation of the Nazi camps in 1945, Eric Schwab reveals here another part of his work. Settled in New York after the Liberation, the man travels the city, film in hand, to capture his indescribable energy. Years during which, the photoraghe recounts "with great delicacy New York life, strolling on Broadway, taking us in jazz clubs to meet Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway or Nat King Cole, or on the Coney Island beach. (…) The work of the Agency's archivists has made it possible to bring to light a real author ”, summarizes Eric Karsenty, editor-in-chief of the photo magazine Fisheye in the special issue“ Agence France-Presse, the silver years 1944 -1998 ”. To admire his photographs, four partial exhibition locations have been selected: the Fisheye Gallery, We are, Galerie 75 Faubourg and Maison Villeroy. A journey through the capital like a treasure hunt from years gone. (forbes)

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