Speed…!

Speed…!


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Title: Speed, also known as Speed.

Author : DEMACHY Robert (1859 - 1936)

Creation date : 1903

Date shown: 1903

Dimensions: Height 12.4 - Width 17.9

Technique and other indications: Photograph exhibited in June 1903 at the Salon du Photo-Club de Paris, reproduced in Camera Work, in July 1904 drawing with bichromate gum

Storage place: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - P.Schmidtsite web

Picture reference: 97CE14832 / Pho1981-23-25

Speed, also known as Speed.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - P.Schmidt

Publication date: March 2016

Historical context

In France, in Europe, in the world, everything was going fast, much faster at the turn of the 19th century, a century of “prodigious scientific and economic development”! The earth is shrinking, the known world, tamed, colonized, is constantly expanding, thanks to new means of transport, and more and more quickly, in particular thanks to the railroad ... and the automobile. “Speed, in a way neuropathic […] carries man through all his actions and distractions […] He goes with a bang, thinks like a whirlwind, smells like a whirlwind, loves like a whirlwind and lives like a whirlwind," says Mirbeau (in The 628-E8, Paris, Librairie Charpentier, 1908, p. 6-th.).

Image Analysis

Robert Demachy, from a family of wealthy bankers, very young in love with photography, founding member in 1888 of the Photo-Club of Paris, in 1903 produced a photograph of an "automobile driving on a road". It was the year of the great Paris-Madrid car race, interrupted in Bordeaux due to numerous accidents.
The cliché, simple in fact, is nevertheless entitled Speed. This title testifies to the photographer's feeling for this phenomenon - speed - which makes time pass ever faster and justifies the very treatment of the image. The print was printed on a paper prepared with bichromate gum, with a more pictorial rendering, restoring the "blur" dear to the painter. These - including Demachy who was one of the theorists - have indeed sought to promote a photographic art which is not a simple recording of reality, but “transcription and not copy of nature”, without competing with painting: “No need to crush us under the names of Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Rousseau or Millet. Our aims are more modest, ”wrote Demachy in 1896. They consisted, among other things, in giving an account of modern life.

Interpretation

Speed ​​has given rise to many writings, to many representations, photographic but also pictorial. Its translation into purely pictorial terms appeared in England, with Rain, steam and speed by Turner, for whom speed and light were the pretext for a painting of indistinct forms buried in colored matter. We find it under the brush of many impressionists equally eager to capture the ephemeral, the instantaneous - think of the Argenteuil Bridge by Monet (1874); it will be especially promoted by the futurists who, at the beginning of the 20th century, praised dynamism. The modern hero is for them superior, because he goes quickly: "Speed ​​is the hope of the West", and his objects represent future beauty: "We declare that the splendor of the world has become enriched with a beauty of speed. A racing car with its trunk adorned with big pipes like snakes with explosive breath ... A roaring car, which looks like it is running on grape, is more beautiful than the Winged Victory of Samothrace. "(Marinetti," Manifesto of Futurism ", in Le Figaro, February 20, 1909).

  • automobile
  • futurism
  • innovation
  • modernism
  • photography

Bibliography

Robert BIED (dir.) The Adventure of Speed, from the July Monarchy to the Interwar Period , educational file Paris, CNDP-Musée d´Orsay, 1986. François HEILBRUN Camera Work-Paris National Center of Photography, 1983, n ° 12.MARINETTI “Manifeste du futurisme” in Le Figaro , February 20, 1909.Octave MIRBEAU The 628-E8 Paris, Charpentier Bookstore, 1908, p.6-è.Michel POIVERT Robert demachy Paris, Nathan, coll. "Photo-pocket", n ° 71, 1997.

To cite this article

Chantal GEORGEL, “Speed…! "


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