When Agnès B. opened her first NYC boutique on Prince Street nearly 30 years ago, well before Soho transformed into the retail destination it is today, the area was an emerging hotbed for young artists. The French fashion designer meshed seamlessly with the city's downtown scene, establishing herself as one of the most trusted brand benefactors of the arts through sponsorships—from the Sarajevo Film Festival and a Godard exhibit to work by Harmony Korine and Dash Snow. Her commitment to the project and keen eye for new talent remains sharp continues when her third NYC outpost, Galerie Boutique, opens with the show "Certain Young French Photography and Drawings" tonight, 14 July 2010.
The new gallery kicked off with a show of well-known friends' work and brings stateside the strong photography of Agnes B.'s Galerie du Jour in Paris (shows since opening in 1984 have spanned Martin Parr to Ryan McGinley), now moving on to what she does best—a display of exciting up-and-comers. The exhibit includes the work of ten photographers and artists selected with a focus on portraiture's ability to present "people and issues of contemporary society in a critical or ironical way."
Nicolas Dhervillers' questions the line between fact and fiction by positioning subjects in cinematic scenes depicting everyday life (pictured below), where the high-contrast images by Matthias Olmeta (at top) "ascribe little importance to reality." Claudia Imbert (above) similarly presents contemplative work with strong geometry in her compositions to "provoke moments of solitude and intimacy." Drawings by Lionel Avignon (at bottom) adds levity to the mix with his narrative pictures that "resonate of a personal and universal currency."
This contrast between lighthearted illustrations and contemplative photography highlights how the two major mediums compare, hinting at the legacy of "the most eminent figure of French photography, Henri Cartier-Bresson." Never ceasing to stop drawing but nearly giving up photography all together, Cartier-Bresson explained that his interest in the latter was because "a small camera like the Leica is an instant drawing."
"Certain Young French Photography and Drawings" runs through 30 August 2011 at Galerie Boutique.