André Villers (1930-2017)
André Villers was born in 1930 in Beaucourt, territory of Belfort, in France. Hospitalized at the age of 17 for decalcification, he spent 8 years in a sanatorium in Vallauris, during which he was bedridden for 5 years. Upon being able to use his legs in 1951, he took his first photography classes. In 1953 he met Picasso who offered him his first Rolleiflex. From then on he started a true photography career. In 1957 he started exhibiting worldwide. In 1958 he worked in a close collaboration with Picasso. From this collaboration a few years later, came the collection of texts Diurnes written by Prévert and edited by Bergruen. He met great artists like Magnelli, Hartung, whom he captured the portraits of. He also devoted time to personal research that helped him discover an alternative way of producing photography. In 1966 the shadows of sculpture of Giacometti helped Aragon illustrate his Laureamont. In 1976 he worked with folding cigarette-rolling paper and released a book with text by Michel Butor: Pliage d’Ombres. Together they also created an original series Bouteille de Survie with photos and manuscripts. These creative experiences show us the artistic possibilities that photography can offer this poetry and freedom passionate photographer.
André Villers was very fortunate to have been able to form his photographic vision with the insight of the life of Picasso, who liked him very much and wanted to help his youth and accepted his presence amongst his intimate surroundings. Another would have had all the fun getting lost in it, which would be the same as believing that they had the right to it without making an effort. André Villers knew to learn from Picasso that nothing is ever given or won, that one must question what seems the most certain and to always look beyond the appearances to capture what makes a moment unique, such as the difference in a gesture and the uncontrolled attitude of a model when he thinks no one is watching. It is not to search the similarities, but to create presence. We are never indiscrete when observing the photos that Villers took of Picasso. We simply also forget that we are looking at photos that recorded a time that has decades evolved. It snatches time away from us. Suddenly we are there, simply within earshot, as though Picasso was alive and was going to notice our presence and welcome us. Villers’ photos retain as though nothing was like the heat of this life.
(by Pierre Daix, biographer of Picasso)
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